When your baby is teething, it can be a frustrating time for you as a parent, as he or she is often fussy and is experiencing discomfort that you would like to alleviate. What to expect during teething and how to help comfort your baby follow.
The Teething Process
Your baby is born with all 20 primary teeth, which are below the gum line as tooth buds. Most babies will start teething between four and seven months; however, some may begin even earlier. Do not be alarmed, though, if teeth don’t erupt until one year of age. The first teeth to appear are usually the bottom two front teeth. A tooth can take up to 15 days to fully erupt.
By the age of three, most children will have all of their primary teeth. Girls often get their teeth earlier than boys.
Teething Signs & Symptoms
What should you look for to help determine if your baby is teething? Your baby:
• Is fussy or cranky.
• Is drooling.
• Is trying to chew on hard objects or may be biting/gnawing.
• Has puffy, red gums.
• Has an increase in temperature.
• Is refusing to feed.
• Is awake during the night.
• Or there is a tooth visible below the gum.
Note that extra saliva and mucus produced during teeth can sometimes lead to an ear infection. Be sure to seek medical attention should you have concerns.
Note these dos and don’ts when attempting to ease your baby’s pain.
• In babies younger than six months, acetaminophen may be used to aid discomfort.
• Use a little bit of pressure to help reduce the ache; rub gently over your baby’s gum with a clean finger or a wet washcloth.
• Try a chilled teething ring or a pacifier that your baby can chew on. Be sure to check that it has not burst.
• Avoid the use of oral gel containing benzocaine.
• Do not run liquor on your baby’s gum.
Keep Teeth Healthy
It is important to practice good oral hygiene from the start. Follow these tips.
• Avoid putting your little one to bed with a bottle of milk, juice or any sugary liquid.
• Be sure to hold your baby for bottle feedings, and do not prop the bottle in his or her mouth.
• Don’t use baby foods or juices that need to be sucked out of either a pouch or a bag since this will expose the teeth and gums to the pureed food longer than is ideal. This can lead to tooth decay.
• Keep your baby’s teeth clean. Using a soft cloth or toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste, gently rub his or her gums and teeth. Do so twice daily: in the morning and after last feeding before bedtime.
Plan the first dental visit for when your child reaches approximately one year of age. This dental checkup should help identify any concerns.
Sue-Ellen Griffith, MD, is a third-year resident at the Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare Family Medicine Program, FL.
For more information on your newborn and parenting, go to: www.youandyourfamily.com.