During infancy, tiny teeth erupt from the baby’s gums. This is called teething. It can be a time of incredible frustration as the process of the teeth emerging from within the gums is uncomfortable. The gums therefore become sensitive and irritated. You will be able to care for the baby better if you understand these facts about teething.
Beginning of teething
Most babies start teething at 5 months of age. It can start as early as 2 months. However, it is extremely rare. The normal age range is anywhere between 4 to 12 months. Some babies start teething even later, it is completely normal. The first teeth observed are mainly the lower front teeth. The process lasts for 25 to 30 months. All the teeth are fully developed by the age of 3 years.
If you observe any complications in your baby’s teeth, it is important to visit a dentist to prevent serious dental ailments. Remember all babies are different and take their own time to grow teeth.
Sometimes a baby is already born with a tooth or two. The teeth can also emerge within the first few weeks. Such conditions although rare are not a cause for concern. Teething progress is not related to the health of the baby at all, but it is rather related to the baby’s genetics and family history.
Teething signs and symptoms
Many new parents find it difficult to see if their infant is teething and there is a lot of misinformation as well. Look for the following symptoms: irritability and drooling. Teething is uncomfortable and babies can be cranky and restless during this time. Drooling is caused by excessive saliva production and just needs to be cleaned away. Your baby may also refuse to eat or drink anything. Swollen and red gums are also observed. Mild rashes are also common.
How teeth erupt
The newborn’s teeth are called milk teeth. They arrive in the following order: central incisors, lateral incisors, canine incisors, first molars, and then second molars. When the child’s age ranges between 6 to 12, these teeth degeneration by one to be replaced by a permanent set of 32 teeth. These teeth are the adult teeth.
There is one exception to this process, the wisdom teeth. Unlike other permanent teeth, wisdom teeth do not have preceding milk teeth. They erupt in late adolescence and have to be removed due to the inconvenience caused by their structure.
Teething does not cause fever
Contrary to popular belief, the teething process does not cause fever. There may be some fluctuation in the body temperature, but it is nothing to worry about as it is usually not caused due to teething but by some other infection that may be happening coincidentally in the body.
When to become alert
Teething is a very uncomfortable experience but it is nothing to be concerned about, it does not require immediate medical attention. But things can always take a turn for the worse of you are not careful. It’s better to actively watch for certain symptoms, so if they occur you can act promptly.
If you observe any over-the-top symptoms of fever, diarrhea, or bleeding from gums, contact your pediatrician or nearest doctor. These symptoms should not be assumed as a side effect of teething as they can be a sign of a serious illness.
Medications for teething
Medications like Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Advil for children provide relief from the pain for babies who are 6 months old or older. Medications containing benzocaine are not recommended as they have lethal side effects. Avoid gels as they are not recommended for babies younger than 2 years.
These medications can provide relief, but they should be administered only after consultation with a paediatrician or your dentist. Remember to never ever give your baby any medication without talking to your doctor first as it could risk the baby’s life.
Home remedies for pain
Applying very gentle pressure on gums, giving cold toys especially manufactured for teething children, allowing the baby to chew on a cold washcloth, etc. are some effective home solutions for teething pain. The toys available in the market can sometimes be dangerous to your baby, so they should be properly checked. Make sure they don’t have sharp edges or hard surfaces. They should also not contain any ingestible substances.
Check for choking hazards. Avoid fluid-filled toys and frozen foods. Be very careful while choosing teethers for your baby. You can also try giving them cold water to drink or fruit puree if the baby is old enough.
Biting and chewing is not only comfortable for the baby, but is also very crucial. It should be done to encourage proper formation and sequencing of teeth. Let your baby chew as much as she wants. You can always consult your paediatrician or dentist for additional solutions. It is possible that your baby won’t accept all of this, at moments like these, all your baby needs is to be cuddled and caressed.
Taking care of new teeth
When the very first teeth grow and become visible it is essential to take proper care of them. Maintaining oral hygiene even before the teeth are visible is very important. The gums or the new milk teeth must be cleaned twice a day using a gentle washcloth. Once the very first teeth erupt, clean them with toothbrushes especially manufactured for babies and infants. Use a pea sized amount of toothpaste. Make sure you are not applying any pressure as this can hurt your baby.
The teeth must be brushed twice a day to keep your little one’s oral health well especially after eating something. Initially you will have to brush your baby’s teeth, later you can teach them how to do it on their own. Flossing should also be started as soon as two teeth start touching.
Children’s teeth are very fragile during the first 3 years of their life, so a mildly fluoridated toothpaste is recommended. Also make sure that the baby properly spits the toothpaste out as excessive fluoride ingestion can cause severe harm to the baby.