Oral thermometers have come a long way since the days of a glass wand filled with toxic mercury. If you have this old version—recognizable by a silver streak—it's time to upgrade.
: Never take an infant's temperature by mouth.
Step 1: Check that you can breathe through nose Check to confirm that you can breathe through your nose. If not, you cannot get an accurate oral reading.
Step 2: Turn thermometer on Turn the thermometer on according to your thermometer's instructions.
Step 3: Slip tip under tongue Slip the tip of the thermometer under your tongue just to one side of its center. Close your lips around it.
TIP: An oral thermometer can also be used under the armpit, but because this method is much less precise, it should only be used if the mouth is not an option.
Step 4: Wait until reading complete Wait until the reading is complete—often indicated by a serious of beeps or by allowing a more than a minute to pass—as directed by your thermometer's instructions.
Step 5: Remove thermometer Remove the thermometer and look at the digital reading. The average normal mouth temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit—if the reading is less than 95 degrees Fahrenheit or more than 103, seek medical assistance.
TIP: If the reading is less than 95 degrees Fahrenheit or more than 103, seek medical assistance.
Step 6: Clean thermometer Clean the thermometer. Wash the tip with warm water and soap, and wipe it off with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol.
FACT: Most states have outlawed the manufacturing and distribution of mercury thermometers.