Mothers' false beliefs and myths associated with teething

Qatar Med J. 2020 Dec 9;2020(2):32. doi: 10.5339/qmj.2020.32. eCollection 2020.


Background: Teething is a physiological process experienced by all children. However, many unrelated illnesses are blamed on teething.

Objective: The aim of this study was to assess mothers' beliefs toward teething and to investigate the practices preferred by mothers to alleviate symptoms that might accompany the teething process.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in Basra. The study population includes mothers of young children aged (6-30) months who had at least one erupted primary tooth, and who had no history of medical or systemic disease that might affect teething. Two hundred mothers of different age groups and educational backgrounds responded to a questionnaire that included information on the child's age and birth order, mother's age, level of education, occupation, number of children, beliefs toward teething symptoms, and the practices preferred to relieve the attributed symptoms. Data has been presented in numbers and percentages, the Chi-square test was performed where appropriate, and a p value of < 0.05 was considered significant.

Results: All (100%) participants attributed at least one symptom or sign to the teething process. The most common symptoms reported were fever (70%), diarrhea (68.5%), and sleep disturbance (63.5%). Sixty-eight percent of mothers believed teething remedies were effective; only 10 (5%) did not give any treatment. Over half (62%) gave medications, such as antipyretics, antibiotics, and antidiarrheal agents. Some used teething gels (29%), pacifiers (50%), gum massage (22%), and hard foods such as biscuits and carrots (43.5%). Mothers of various educational levels reported attributed symptoms, and the result was statistically significant (p < 0.05). Mothers of a firstborn child were found to have a higher tendency to attribute symptoms to teething than those who had previous experience with children (p < 0.05).

Discussion and conclusions: Teething myths and misconceptions are common among mothers. The study identified a significant number of doctors, dentists, and pharmacists still attribute many symptoms and signs to teething despite the lack of supporting evidence. Therefore, the findings of this study highlight the need for continuous medical education and nationwide prospective studies to eradicate these false beliefs.

Keywords: antipyretics; misconceptions; pacifiers; teething.