"Kids are like cats one day and dogs the next" (“猫一天，狗一天”) is a popular saying Chinese families use to explain the ups and downs of child rearing. This is especially true for teething toddlers who go from cheerful little cherubs one day to little wailing banshees the next as their chompers grow in.
Parents everywhere can attest to the sleepless nights and mental anguish a teething can cause – it’s one of those trials of child rearing that you never really anticipate until it’s there, screaming, kicking and writhing in your face.
That sprouting little shard of bone stabbing upwards through their tender little gums is undoubtedly painful, but what’s less obvious is the correlation between teething and fevers, which many babies (including ours as of late) experience each time a new tooth grows in.
According to about.com “most experts will tell you that teething does not cause fever and definitely does not cause a high fever” but the article goes on to suggest that “it may cause a low grade fever … especially on the day that the tooth actually erupts.”
Why this contradiction exists is beyond me, but based on our own experiences in the past and over the last few days (our daughter has been running a low-grade fever of 38.6ºC as her back molar grows in), I submit that hell yeah, teething most definitely causes fever – especially as these bouts are not accompanied by any other symptoms (i.e. sneezing, runny nose etc.).
What these periods do entail, however (at least for our daughter), are days, even weeks, of high-maintenance fussiness, clinginess to mom/ayi, intermittent crying, restlessness at night and a general loss of appetite. Each time this has happened we’ve gone from the usual parental freak-out mode (“Oh my god! She’s running a temperature! It must be swine flu!”) to the gradual realization that a new tooth is growing in as the tell-tale white sprout appears in her gums and scratch marks materialize on her lower cheekbone.
My guess is that medical professionals are reluctant to state a clear correlation between teething and running a temperature to play it safe – after all, a fever is never something to be taken lightly and you should always rule out other causes (i.e. viral infections and colds) before proceeding with a course of treatment.
Under these circumstances it can be quite disconcerting to see your little one become “Jekyll and Hyde” – cheerful and bubbly one minute and hellfire and brimstone the next – but it’s comforting to know that this too will come to a pass.