Severe Teething Pain in Babies

When your previously happy and content baby suddenly begins to bite, drool and cry with pain due to teething, you might feel frustrated and confused about the best way to help your little one. The symptoms of teething pain can vary day to day and baby to baby, worsening as the tooth gets closer to eruption. Fortunately, you can help reduce your baby’s pain with home treatments and over-the-counter medications.

Symptoms of Impending Eruption

Your baby might start to show symptoms of teething up to two months before the tooth actually erupts. The pain often increases in intensity as the tooth gets closer to erupting from the gums, and your baby’s pain could be severe. Your baby might indicate she is in severe pain by increased levels of irritability or fussiness, changes in her desire to nurse or eat solids and an increased desire to chew or bite objects and people.

Myths and Misconceptions

Baby Chewing on Crib

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A high fever is not a symptom of teething and usually indicates an infection such as an ear infection or a cold, which might require medical treatment. Old wives’ tales have also suggested that severe teething pain can lead babies to develop diaper rash, diarrhea, colds and sleeping problems. While teething pains can cause irritability and symptoms around the baby's mouth, other health concerns do not result from teething pain.

Things to Consider

The symptoms of teething vary among babies, and pain can vary from one tooth eruption to the next. Sometimes, severe teething pain can cause your baby to bite you when she nurses or while playing. The biting is a way for her to try to relieve pressure in her gums, not a form of misbehavior or aggression. Because your baby cannot tell you what hurts or how badly it hurts, use your own judgment and compare your baby’s usual mood and behavior to her teething behavior to determine her level of pain and whether any home or medical treatments are necessary.

Soothe the Soreness

Baby Chewing on Crib

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Try giving your baby a cold washcloth to suck on to help reduce her pain from teething. Another option is to put crushed ice chips into a small sock, tie a knot in the sock so the ice does not fall out, and allow the baby to suck on the sock. Some babies prefer to have something harder to chew on, such as a rubber or silicone teething ring. If homemade treatments are ineffective at reducing your baby’s pain, your pediatrician might recommend infant acetaminophen drops.