Does Teething Cause Fever? (Only if You Have Children)

Does teething cause fever? Search the subject and you will see that medical experts are divided on the subject. Some experts say that teething does not cause fevers. Others say it can cause mild fever, while a third group says it as an absolute: teething causes fever. The upshot seems to be that teething may cause a slight elevation in temperature not high enough to be called a fever.

All well and good, but as a 61-year-old mother and grandmother of many, I have a different tale to tell.  Every time my first two children cut teeth, they got fevers. Not a tiny “elevation in temperature not high enough to be called a fever,” but a REAL live fever. Hot enough to call the doctor.

I have always been a reader, so I turned to my books. There was no choice. We had no internet and personal computers back then. So I read all the greats of the time, Dr. Spock, T. Berry Brazelton, and Nancy Mohrbacher. I had subscriptions to Parents Magazine and Good Housekeeping, McCalls.

Mildly ill cranky teething baby

Teething Doesn’t Cause Fever

In other words, I was current. And all the experts said the same thing: Teething doesn’t cause fever. 

It was stated as an absolute. Yet every time my children cut teeth, BOOM they got fevers. Sometimes scarily high. With projectile vomiting. Or horrible ear infections. Then, the tooth would emerge, and the fever would be gone. Until the next time. (When weren’t they teething?)

At some point, we generally needed to bring the baby to the doctor. In frustration, during one such visit to the pediatrician, I said, “It’s like EVERY time my girls are cutting teeth, they get really high fevers. They get SICK. But I know that’s wrong. That I’m just imaging it. Because all the experts say that teething doesn’t cause fever.”

teething baby getting sick

Does Too

In his blasé, most disinterested voice, Dr. Wilensky said, “That’s because they don’t have children. I have children. So I know. Teething causes fever.”

At the end of the examination, the doctor went back to the topic. His theory was that teething is a kind of trauma to the body so it lowers resistance and kids begin to get sick. Fever is the body’s way of fighting illness. When the body is hot, it’s hard for germs and viruses to survive. Sometimes when the tooth comes through, it’s enough to stop the sickness in its tracks. When the tooth is cut, kids already feel better.

This baby feels better after cutting that tooth

Of course, the longer it takes for the tooth to come through, the more likely it is that illness will set in. An ear infection is a good example. The ears and the teeth share the same nerves, so the theory fits. Lowered resistance, ears in the neighborhood of the teeth. Duh.

This all made perfect sense to me, as it is EXACTLY what had happened with my own children, each and every time they cut a tooth. And I’m betting that what you got you to this blog in the first place is that your children have also gotten fevers, real fevers, when teething.

Even though the experts say, “Nah.”

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About Varda Epstein

Varda Meyers Epstein serves as editor in chief of Kars4Kids Parenting. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Varda is the mother of 12 children and is also a grandmother of 12. Her work has been published in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Learning Site, The eLearning Site, and Internet4Classrooms.