Growing Pains and Teething Pains

It’s been a rough few nights, hence very little blogging from me.  Gavin’s teething again – or at least I think he is.  From the very first tooth he ever cut, Gavin appears to have a rather rough time with teething.  He loses his appetite, he gets mildly feverish, and he gets diarrhoea. 

The current school of thought does not subscribe to the theory that teething causes any of these symptoms and neither does Gavin’s paediatrician. That said, some of the Mums I’ve spoken to swear there is a link because they find it too coincidental that their kids develop these symptoms, particularly the low-grade fever, whenever they are teething. 

When I was in dental school, my lecturer, too, taught us that teething could cause a mild elevation in body temperature – although, as much as I hate to think so, that was a while back and may not be what is taught today.  Then again, some of the dentists I knew didn’t think very highly of what the doctors had to say about the oral cavity.  There appeared to be some disparity in thought on certain matters revolving around the mouth.

I digress… I’m not here to discuss the different philosophies between the doctors and the dentists.  However, I do think it is necessary to define low-grade fever from a high fever.  Depending on your definition (it seems to vary from what I’ve read) a low-grade fever is any elevated body temperature that is below 38.5-39 degrees celcius (convert to farenheit).  For this reason, most doctors usually don’t recommend paracetamol for such fevers unless the child is distressed by the fever.  A high fever is a body temperature above 39.8 degrees celcius.

Whether you agree or disagree with the link between low-grade fever and teething, this is what I have noticed over the past week:

  • Gavin developed a mild fever last Thursday morning which he recovered from during the wee hours of Friday morning.  At the same time, he complained of pain in his gums – lower right molar area (Gavin has a habit of taking my hand and biting my fingers when he’s teething).  I could also feel that one cusp of his lower molar had broken the surface of his gums but the rest of the tooth was still submerged.
  • He was fine until he developed a fever again on Tuesday this week.  It continued until Wednesday.  This time he complained of pain in his chin which I suspect might be referred pain from his gums because the nerve that supplies the lower teeth is the same nerve that innervates the chin.
  • Gavin was fine again until Thursday evening when he started to feel feverish again.  Sometime during the early hours of Friday morning, the fever broke.  Again he complained of pain in his chin.

Since then, he has been fine (touch wood).  Aside from some crabbiness and decreased appetite (not unexpected from any child with a fever), there were no other symptoms associated with the fever.  I won’t rule out the possibility that he had a mild infection that presented only with a fever and it happened to coincide with his teething episode.  Or it might be as my SIL said – Gavin’s immune symptom is developing and may be over sensitive at this stage.

I normally would have taken Gavin to the doctor but I didn’t this time because:

  • Fever on the first day or two of an infection is usually rather non-specific and it is difficult for the doctor to tell you what is wrong aside from the fact that your child obviously has an infection.  Aside from prescribing the usual medications – paracetamol for the fever – and recommending bed rest and fluids, there is not much else they can tell you.
  • The subsequent fevers took place at night and usually by morning, Gavin was already recovering so it didn’t seem necessary to take him to the doctor.
  • Gavin has already developed an intense dislike for the doctor and can recognise the general setup at the doctor’s office.  He would get extremely distressed whenever we walk into the consultation room.  I didn’t see the point of causing him distress only to be told to do what we would already have done.

Perhaps it was teething, perhaps it was a mild infection, but whatever it was, Gavin appears to be over it for the time being.


Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

2 thoughts on “Growing Pains and Teething Pains

  1. He hates Kool-Fever patch. Tried to use it on him and he screams to have it removed. I think he doesn’t like the sticky part. In the end, I just use a wet towel.

    Did you read about Bonjela? My SIL read some article about salicylate in Bonjela being similar in nature to aspirin and too much of it being a risk in children. Something like that. Really must get hold of that article to check the details…


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