Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Easing Teething Pain

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Henry Bernstein, M.D.

Q: What is the best way to ease the pain of teething?

A: As you are probably aware, increased drooling and a seemingly unending desire to chew on things usually mark the beginning of your infant's teething. These symptoms will become apparent whne your child's 5-7 months of age. It can be painful for your child when the gums around the new, erupting teeth swell. Therefore, he may cry more often, become irritable, and even have a low-grade temperature elevation (< 101.0 F). There are many ideas to choose from for easing the discomfort of teething, but it's hard to say which one is "best."

Try giving him something hard to chew on, but make sure it's big enough that he will not swallow or choke on it. A hard rubber teething ring may be soothing, but be sure to take it out of the freezer before it becomes rock hard. Teething aids that are frozen, particularly plastic ones, may actually bruise already swollen gums. Massaging the gums with one of your fingers may also help. There are gel medications to rub on the gums, but these usually aren't long-lasting because they tend to wash out of your baby's mouth within minutes. Also, the FDA has warned that benzocaine gels, such as Anbesol, Orajel, Baby Orajel, Orabase, and Hurricaine, can be harmful to babies and should be used sparingly, and never more than four times a day.

An occasional dose of acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol®) can be used to lower a slight fever or relieve pain. However, if your child seems particularly unhappy or has a fever of 101.0 F or higher, it is more likely not due to teething. In addition, teething isn't believed to cause diarrhea or sleep problems. If any of these symptoms occur while your infant is teething, consult your child's doctor as it may very well be due to something else.

Hank Bernstein
Children's Hospital

More on: Expert Advice

Henry Bernstein, M.D., is currently the associate chief of the Division of General Pediatrics and director of Primary Care at Children's Hospital, Boston. He also has an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


10 Best Creative Apps for Kids
Looking for apps that foster creativity? Check out these top-rated art and music apps for kids.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

A New Intergalactic Reading Adventure!
Get your reluctant reader hooked on an irresistible new story, Galactic Hot Dogs! Join the Book 1 reading marathon, and get behind-the-scenes tidbits on the official Galactic Hot Dogs blog. Also, print this cool Galactic Hot Dogs reading log to keep your bookworm excited about reading!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks