Many parents might dread the pain and discomfort teething causes their baby. But once those teeth are through, they can enjoy their child’s new pearly whites and the next step in their development.
Teething typically begins around 6 months of age. By the time a child is 3 years old, he or she will have 20 primary teeth. The lower front teeth usually come first. The upper front teeth usually come in a month or two later.
There is often soreness and swelling in the gums about three to five days before the tooth shows. Some babies can be fussy during this time. Discomfort can disappear once the tooth breaks the skin. Some babies are not bothered by teething.
Mild symptoms are usually nothing to worry about. It is common for babies to be irritable, refuse food or drink, or to drool during teething. Contact a baby’s health care provider of symptoms are severe or do not get better. Teething should not cause diarrhea or cause a fever that is greater than 100.5 degrees.
Here are some tips to help your baby feel better while teething:
- Give a mild pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help relieve baby’s discomfort. These medications should not be used multiple times per day or for multiple days as it is important not to mask other symptoms related to other possible medical conditions.
- Use a clean finger, cold teething ring or cold washcloth to gently rub baby’s gums for about two minutes at a time. This can be soothing,
- Provide safe objects for baby to chew on like teething rings. Babies who are teething like to gnaw on things to help relieve the pressure from an erupting tooth. Having safe objects to chew on can help prevent your baby from chewing on those that are dangerous.
Talk to your health care provider before using teething remedies such as gels that can be put on baby’s gums. Many doctors question if these are safe or actually help.
Oral health is very important, even at a young age. Parents can give their child the best chance for healthy teeth and gums.
- Take measures to help prevent tooth decay by starting to clean teeth as soon as they come in. As more teeth come in, use a soft bristle toothbrush, using only water at first. Always take a bottle out of the baby’s mouth as soon as he or she is finished. Clean the baby’s teeth after feeding, especially at night.
- Schedule regular well-child visits with your baby’s health care provide, during which they can talk about dental health.
Take a child to a dentist within six months of when the baby’s first tooth comes through but no later than the child’s second birthday.
By Dorrie Happ, MD, at ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca