Baby teething – the signs and solutionsAugust 2, 2012 No Comments
Cutting teeth is no laughing matter. The movement in the developing jawbone caused by baby’s first teeth pushing through, can be very painful – and your baby will let you know this by crying, acting irritably and showing common teething symptoms.
Teething can start in babies from as early as a few months, but between six and nine months is when the first teeth are most likely to emerge. Usually it’s the bottom two front teeth that appear first, followed by the top two and then the side teeth.
By the age of one year most babies have eight teeth, and somewhere between two and three years of age your child will have acquired a complete set of milk teeth. Don’t worry if your baby isn’t following this timetable – some variation is completely normal. Some babies are born with teeth and others are late developers. However, if you are worried about your baby’s development at any stage, make an appointment to see your doctor.
Common signs of teething
Not all babies experience pain and discomfort when their teeth start to emerge, but few escape the symptoms of teething altogether.
Some teeth will come through with little trouble at all, causing only slight redness of the gums, and a small amount of swelling, before the little white tooth can be seen breaking through.
Others like to make their presence felt and can cause a number of teething symptoms such as:
- Poor appetite
- Raised temperature
- Nappy rash
- Red cheeks
There are a number of ways you can help relieve the pain and discomfort caused by teething in your baby.
Teething rings/toys: Your baby may find chewing on a teething ring or toy that has been cooled in the fridge, a relief on his/her hot and inflamed gums. Always follow the manufacturers instructions and never put them in the freezer [unless specified] as an overly hard or cold teething ring could cause freezer burn and damage your baby’s gums.
Teething gel: You’ll find a variety of teething gels for sale in your local pharmacy. If your baby is over four months old you can gently rub a sugar free teething gel, such as Calgel or Bonjela, directly to the irritated gum area. These products contain a mild anaesthetic to numb the area and ease the pain. Make sure you choose a gel that is designed for your child’s age.
Teething food: As a result of teething your baby will probably start chewing on almost anything – from their own fingers, to toys and clothing. Rather than giving them sugar based biscuits or rusks that can cause tooth decay, how about raw fruit and vegetables? Apple, celery, cucumber and carrot sticks are all good to chomp down on. You could also try breadsticks or a frozen banana. Always supervise your child when they are eating to avoid the risk of choking.
Cold drinks: A cold drink washing over your baby’s inflamed gums can help to cool them down and have a mild numbing effect that can ease the pain. Cool water is best, but make sure it isn’t uncomfortably cold.
Rash relief: Excessive drooling and dribbling can cause the area round your baby’s mouth and chin to become red, sore and chaffed. To prevent this, keep the area dry by gently patting up the excess moisture and applying a barrier cream.
Herbal remedies: Clove oil is a very potent anaesthetic and antiseptic commonly used as a tooth treatment. Due to its strength, never use clove oil neat on children under the age of six as it can upset their tummy. Instead, add a drop of clove oil to a tablespoon of safe, edible oil, and using clean fingers, rub it into your baby’s gums.
Some people claim vanilla extract woks wonders too. Rubbing it into your baby’s gums will feel warm and soothing and the vanilla itself may also have a calming effect.
Pain relief medicine: If none of the above work, and your baby is still in pain or has a raised temperature, then you may want to give them some pain relief medicine such as infant ibuprofen or paracetamol. Always use a product that has been designed for your child’s age and follow the dosage instructions carefully. Where possible choose a sugar free product to protect those new milk teeth!
Your baby may only be little, but it’s never too soon to start a proper tooth care routine. Once the teeth have made an appearance you can start to clean them. Apply a tiny amount of baby toothpaste onto a wet muslin cloth and gently rub the teeth.
Once the teeth have fully erupted you can buy a soft bristle baby tooth brush and start to gently brush your baby’s teeth twice a day. As your baby will swallow the toothpaste at this early age, use just a tiny amount, teaching him/her to spit it out, as they get older.
If at any stage, you are worried about your baby’s symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor for advice.