Every parent has had to deal with the challenge of a teething baby. The process of teeth growing through the gums, also known as odontiasis, can be a distressing time for both the baby and the parents. This guide will help you understand the teething process and provide effective strategies to alleviate your child’s discomfort.
Understanding the Teething Process
Teething typically begins around the age of 4 to 7 months[^1^]. The sequence and timing can vary for each baby, but it generally starts with the two bottom front teeth (lower central incisors), followed by the two top front teeth (upper central incisors)^1^.
Common Symptoms of Teething
Teething symptoms can vary for each baby, but typical signs include:
- Excessive drooling
- Chewing on objects
- Irritability or fussiness
- Tender or sore gums
- Slight increase in temperature^1^
While many parents might associate teething with fever and diarrhea, these symptoms are not indicative of teething[^1^]. If your baby has a rectal temperature of 100.4 F (38 C) or diarrhea, it is essential to consult a doctor[^1^].
Soothing the Pain: Effective Strategies for Teething Relief
If your teething baby seems uncomfortable, consider the following strategies:
Applying Pressure to the Gums
Lightly rubbing your baby’s gums with a clean finger or wet gauze can help ease their discomfort[^1^][^4^]. The counter-pressure provides temporary relief from the pain.
Using Cool Items
A cold spoon or a chilled (not frozen) teething ring can be soothing on a baby’s gums[^1^][^4^]. Be sure not to dip these items in sugary substances to prevent cavities[^1^].
Offering Over-the-Counter Remedies
Consult your pediatrician or dentist before giving your baby any over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen[^1^][^4^]. Avoid giving your child aspirin as it’s associated with a rare but dangerous condition called Reye’s syndrome[^4^].
What to Avoid during Teething
Certain treatments and remedies should be avoided to ensure your baby’s safety:
Over-the-Counter Remedies and Homeopathic Tablets
The benefits of topical gels and teething tablets have not been proven and may contain harmful ingredients^1^. Some homeopathic remedies have been found to contain greater amounts of the ingredient belladonna than labeled, which can cause seizures and difficulty breathing[^1^].
Teething Medications Containing Benzocaine or Lidocaine
These pain relievers can be harmful and even fatal to your baby^1^. The FDA warns against using topical medications for teething as they offer little to no benefit and are associated with serious risks^3^.
Teething necklaces, bracelets, or anklets pose a risk of choking, strangulation, mouth injury, and infection^1^.
When to Call the Doctor
Teething can usually be handled at home, but if your baby seems exceptionally uncomfortable or if teething interferes with their eating or drinking, consult a doctor[^1^].
Caring for Your Baby’s New Teeth
After your baby’s first teeth appear, it’s important to maintain regular dental hygiene:
- Use a soft, clean cloth to wipe your baby’s gums twice a day[^1^].
- When the first teeth appear, use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush to clean them twice a day^1^.
- Schedule the first dental visit near your child’s first birthday as recommended by the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry[^1^].
Extra Tips for Teething Relief
Using a Teething Ring
Offering your baby a teething ring made of firm rubber can help alleviate their discomfort^2^.
Wiping Away Excess Drool
Excess drool can cause uncomfortable rashes on your baby’s face[^4^]. Regularly wipe it away and change your baby’s clothes as necessary to prevent this issue[^4^].
Maintaining the Bedtime Routine
Despite the difficulty of dealing with a teething baby, it’s important to continue with the usual bedtime routine[^4^]. The familiar routine creates a better environment for self-coping and can help your baby get some much-needed sleep[^4^].
Remember, the teething phase is temporary and will pass. In the meantime, use these tips to help your baby get through this challenging time.
Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional for any health-related concerns.