Our 18 months daughter has phases of extreme pain that we attribute to teething. The doctor advised painkillers, which we give her when we can. She indeed has molars coming out and tends to touch her mouth, but the crises are so intense that we are wondering if this can be caused by teething only.

In these crises (which usually last 30m~2h) she:

  • Screams very loud, face all red
  • Won't sit or stand, will roll on the floor arching herself convulsively
  • Sometimes bangs her head against or kicks walls and furniture while on the floor
  • Cannot be calmed by anything (even things she's usually very interested in)
  • Doesn't have any fever, doesn't vomit

We know that there is pain, because this sometimes wakes her up at night. This is very different from when she's crabby or frustrated by something, we can tell by the intensity and the duration of the crises.

Most people we know either say things like "teething can make them quite crabby" but this doesn't describe what our daughter is experiencing. I'm sure the pain caused by teething varies a lot from child to child, and same goes for how they manifest it.

So my question is: do you know if crises like these can be explained by teething only?

  • Do frozen teething toys help at all? Does the crying stop within 10-15 minutes of administering tylenol consistently?
    – Joe
    Commented Oct 26, 2015 at 21:21
  • We've had cases where paracetamol did not seem to do much. The recommended doses might be lower in Europe than they are in the US, though.
    – tom
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 11:01

1 Answer 1


It's hard to say that's it's only teething pain, as that's an evaluation your physician would have to make. However, it is definitely possible that this is just the reaction to teething pain.

An 18-month-old doesn't have much exposure to pain in general, and when they're cutting teeth the pain can be both intense or enduring. It can interrupt their normal rest times (naps, sleep), which can further lower their tolerance. The combination of low exposure and low tolerance can make your child very unhappy and uncomfortable.

People will likely describe the child as "crabby". When it comes to parenting, it seems common for people to underplay the difficulties parents face. If we're going to be realistic, teething pain is probably the most pain an average infant will face, barring accidents. The closest my oldest came to similar pain was from a set of intramuscular immunization shots, but even that discomfort was temporary and tolerable.

To help deal with the pain, there are some more methods mentioned here that I would recommend: https://parenting.stackexchange.com/a/4714/11394

We had success with putting wet washcloths inside of plastic bags (like Ziploc), and freezing them, and also cold carrots. We also used infant Orajel when the discomfort was the worst.

If these methods help at all, then it is most likely just teething pain.

Another strategy is to provide the child some sugar water (sucrose water) for pain relief. This worked well for us sometimes. Other times we still had to use Tylenol (acetaminophen). On bad days, we'd usually end with a dose of Tylenol before bed to help sleeping be more successful. When an infant/toddlers awakens from pain in the middle of the night, they can be inconsolable and unwilling to accept anything to help pain relief.

Sugar water and Tylenol could also alleviate other pain, so they wouldn't help narrow down whether or not this is teething pain.

Another side-effect of teething pain could be hunger. If the child is uncomfortable while eating, they may eat less, and then end up hungry and uncomfortable, which could compound their pain. We tried focusing on cold-serve foods to help alleviate the pain and ensuring our son ate enough. (For us, there were times when it was evident he wasn't eating because of the pain, even though he was hungry.)

If you're truly concerned, make sure you're checking in with your child's physician, especially if you plan on using medicine regularly. You may not need an actual appointment, but just to give a call in. Our pediatrician was okay with it, and provided us a dosage for the Tylenol that was specific to our child. It was a lower dose than the minimum showed on the bottle. (In fact, the bottle should say to consult a physician for children under 2). They provided us this information over the phone.

  • I highly doubt innoculations are even within an order of magnitude of teething pain. They're very short, sharp pains, which we're quite able to get over. Teething is long term pain - and I suspect even is stronger at its peak than the peak innoculation pain - but more importantly is a major stress-inducer. The pain I'd compare teething to would be falling and hitting their head on a table corner, which is the worst pain I think my kids ever managed (though certainly some break bones/etc.)
    – Joe
    Commented Oct 26, 2015 at 21:19
  • 1
    @Joe Some of those deep-muscle shots bothered my oldest for days. He was so uncomfortable and and sensitive that it made carrying him and changing him difficult. It's the closest comparison we experienced. He bumped his head a lot, but after the initial cry he never seemed bothered by it, even if there were a bruise or swelling. I will say that my youngest seemed to be largely unaffected by those same shots, so results may very.
    – user11394
    Commented Oct 26, 2015 at 21:24
  • Thanks. We will try using a gum gel and see if that helps.
    – tom
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 11:03

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