Fever due to teething or mouth injury?

My 16-month-old son recently injured his front teeth, and now there is a purplish discoloration of his teeth. He has had a fever and is extremely ill-tempered. He is usually a happy baby. He also seems to be teething, so it is difficult to determine if the fever is due to teething or injury. Does he need to see a dentist?


Your son's fever may be due to: 1) the teething process; 2) an infection related to his injured front teeth; or 3) all of the above. Generally, when the nerve inside an injured tooth "dies", the tooth can become discolored causing it to appear gray or even black. The purple color you describe may be due to blood leaking into the tooth from the trauma and can also be a sign of pulpal (nerve and blood vessels in the tooth) trouble.

I definitely recommend taking your son to see a dentist. If your general dentist will not see him because of his age, ask for a referral to a pedodontist. The dentist may recommend a radiograph of the area to help determine the extent of the damage. If an infection is diagnosed, treatment for the teeth (either extraction or a "baby" root canal) and antibiotics may be necessary. If there is infection present, you do not want to leave it untreated as a localized infection may not only damage the developing permanent teeth, but could also spread to a larger, more severe infection.

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