Sometimes, it just seems so unfair. Just when you get to that stage in a baby’s life when they’re finally sleeping through the night the Terrible Teething phase begins.
What most parents want to know is how long the teething stage will last and what are some of the most effective remedies that we would recommend.
Unfortunately, we can not predict how long nor how severe your baby’s teething will be. It may surprise you to learn that some babies are born with teeth!
Generally speaking, however, teething can begin as early as 3 months of age and ends with the emergence of the last primary teeth – the second molars. Knowing that these last teeth will arrive between the ages of 2 to 3 doesn’t make the idea of teething any more thrilling, but usually there are some periods of relief in between each type of tooth’s appearance. Hopefully, you’ll learn what works best for your child along the way, making each teething period more tolerable than the last.
Know the Signs
The signs of tooth eruption will usually begin before the first tooth pokes through the gums. Symptoms can last for just a few short days while the new tooth emerges, or as long as several months if they come in close succession.
Drooling, fever, irritability, tender and swollen gums, and trouble sleeping are all common during teething. Your baby may also be more fussy at mealtimes, grab at their face and ears, and have looser bowel movements.
When to worry
Oftentimes, you may notice several of these symptoms together, however, some symptoms should not be dismissed. If your baby is experiencing a fever, diarrhea, vomiting or a fever lasting more than 24 hours you should have it checked out by a physician.
Ways to Soothe
Not all babies are fussy during their teething periods. If you’re asking, there’s lots of people and plenty of online sites willing to give advice on how to soothe your teething child. Some methods work, some don’t, while some can be actually dangerous like this still trendy item. You will soon find out what works best for your bay.
Consider some of these simple tips to begin with:
- Drooling – Excessive drooling, although part of the teething process, can cause skin irritation that can become sore and chapped. Rubbing your baby’s wet chin can also start to irritate the skin after a while. When drying your baby’s chin with a clean cloth, use soft, dabbing motions then apply a water-based moisturizing cream or lotion.
- Pressure – Try rubbing your baby’s aching gums with slight pressure using a clean finger or clean, moistened cloth/gauze.
- Cold therapy – Cold therapy can be a great reliever of discomfort. With babies, however, you have to be careful not to use extreme cold as it can harm the tender tissues of the mouth, lips, gums and even hands. There are products on the market that you can freeze, but we recommend using a chilled cloth, pacifier, spoon or teething ring and always under supervision. Be sure to check teething items often for signs of wear and breakage.
- Gnawing – Babies seems to naturally grab onto anything and put it in their mouths. The pressure associated with biting on hard items can be soothing. If your child has moved onto solid foods, you can chill hard foods such as whole carrots or celery and allow them to gnaw on it. They can hold the food with their hands or you can put the food item into a meshed product that is designed specifically for this purpose. There are teething cookies available that are both nutritious and shaped for handling. Again, close supervision is a must for any pieces that may break off and become a choking hazard.
- Chilled foods – You can offer them their foods chilled if they will take it. There are products that are designed for self feeding of pureed foods. By placing pureed foods into the mesh container your baby will be able to chew and suck on the food without the risk of choking.
- Pain relievers – Consult your baby’s physician if you choose to use an over the counter pain reliever as a remedy for teething. Understand the difference between acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Both are pain relievers. Ibuprofen reduces inflammation (swelling and redness), tends to last a little longer, but must be given with food to avoid stomach upset. It is not recommended for babies under 6 months of age. Acetaminophen is milder on the stomach, but is not an anti-inflammatory. If you are unsure of the correct dosage, intake frequency or the potential side effects, always consult your doctor or pharmacist as this information is especially crucial for your baby’s welfare. Beware of teething medications that contain Benzocaine – a local anesthetic. It is found in common pain relievers for sore gums (Anbesol, Hurricaine, Orajel, Baby Orajel, and Orabase) and has been linked to a rare, but serious condition called methemoglobinemia that interferes with blood oxygen.
- Alcohol – No matter how much someone may insist that whiskey is the best natural pain reliever, we cannot recommend it use.
It is not uncommon for parents to be concerned when no tooth has appeared by 8 months of age, especially when they see other babies getting their teeth. There is a usual and customary pattern of eruption, but some children’s teeth are slower to appear.
If you see no other signs of impaired development, especially with respect to bones, skin and hair, there probably isn’t anything to be concerned about. However, by about 18 months teeth should be starting to emerge into the mouth. We expect that all 20 teeth should have made their arrival by 3 years of age.
Use this chart as a reference guide:
Your Child’s First Visit
A good recommendation to follow is to have your child’s first dental visit by age one years of age since tooth decay can occur as soon as teeth are present in the mouth. We call this 1st Dental Visit at 1st Birthday. An early visit to our office is a good opportunity to acquaint your child with going to the dentist and allows us to examine your child’s dental development and discuss things like:
1. How to properly care for their teeth and mouth.
2. Dental development including teething and losing teeth.
3. Why tooth decay occurs and how to prevent it.
4. Proper dietary habits for healthy teeth.
5. Habits such as snacking, sippy cups, night time bottles, thumb sucking, pacifiers and tongue thrusting.
6. How to prevent some of the common accidents that can occur affecting the mouth and teeth.
There is an increasing number of children developing preschool cavities. Prevention is what every parent should be aiming for with regards to their child’s overall health. It has been our experience that the sooner children begin learning about the importance of proper oral care and having regular dental visits, the more likely that they will have healthier teeth in their adult years.
No one want a child’s first visit to the dentist be a repair visit because of dental decay, infection, neglect or due to an emergency accident. It takes time to build a trusting relationship with healthcare providers and every child is different.
If starting your child’s dental health off right sounds like a good idea, give us a call today!
At Your Smile Dental Care, we believe that kids like to have fun. We know from experience that introducing your child to the dentist at an early age and in a positive, relaxed manner will help them come to see dental visits as routine so they can avoid future apprehension.
Yours in Better Dental Health,