Tooth and Consequences
Fortunately, most kids suffer only mild discomfort during teething. Because your child's gums are irritated, you might see her gnawing and sucking -- on toys and crib rails, even on her clothes and fists. And while most babies drool, you may notice a lot more of it right now. The continual wetness can cause your baby's lower cheeks and chin to redden. Not surprisingly, she may be cranky too. Some kids even lose their appetite for a while, Dr. Hale says.
Your child might also develop a low-grade fever (lower than 101°F), which may be caused by gum inflammation. If she has a runny nose or a bout of diarrhea, however, don't simply chalk it up to her teething; these symptoms are usually caused by a virus or a bacterial infection -- or, in the case of diarrhea, by a change in diet (teething babies are typically trying various solid foods for the first time).
If your child seems ill and you suspect she's teething, inspect her gums. If they're swollen and you can feel at least one tooth-size lump, teething's in progress. If her gums are red or blue (instead of pink) or bleeding, see a dentist, because these symptoms aren't normal, advises Mary J. Hayes, D.D.S., a pediatric dentist in Chicago and a spokesperson for the American Dental Association.
Once you're positive that your child's discomfort is due to his teething, what can you do to soothe him? For starters, look for teething rings and other specially designed chewing toys; gumming them can be extremely comforting. Often, these objects can also be chilled in the refrigerator, which is a bonus, because the coolness can help take the edge off the pain.
Occasionally, your baby may have trouble sleeping through the night because of teething discomfort. Disregard the old wives' tales about rubbing whisky or another alcoholic beverage on his gums to placate him -- it could be dangerous. Instead, ask your pediatrician or dentist whether you can give your child an appropriate dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen.