When a baby is teething, it can be a trying time for parents. You find yourself with a constantly fussy baby, and it can be difficult to know how to soothe him or her. In this week’s blog, we will cover what you need to know about teething.
What is “Teething”?
Teething is the term used to describe the response of a baby to the process of erupting teeth in the mouth. Babies are (typically) born with no teeth, and the first tooth usually begins to push through the gums at about six months of age in a process we call “eruption”.
[We say (typically) because some babies are actually born with teeth in their mouths!]
As the primary teeth (the first set of teeth known as “baby teeth”) begin erupting, the gums usually become red, swollen, and painful. The process of a single tooth erupting can take a few weeks, and your child has twenty baby teeth that must erupt by around age two years. As soon as one tooth erupts, it isn’t unusual for another to begin the process. This can make it seem as though your child is teething for eighteen months straight. And that can be exhausting!
What to Expect
As we just mentioned, the process can take a long time. The good news is that the teeth typically erupt in pairs. Usually the lower two front teeth are the first to erupt. The upper front four teeth follow relatively closely behind, and then the lower lateral incisors (the two teeth beside the front ones) are next. These eight teeth should come in relatively quick succession to one another.
The next to come into the mouth are the first baby molars, which usually erupt around age one year. You might notice the change that your child begins seeming to chew on the side of his or her mouth. There is one on each side of the top and bottom, and they should be pretty close to one another in timing.
At eighteen months, we expect to see the baby canines, followed by the baby second molars (behind the second molars and the last in the mouth) at around age two years. All of these ages are approximate and can vary by about six months. Your child may be very early or very late in tooth eruption, and that is okay!
With teething, your baby will probably experience excessive drooling and fussiness. You may notice her chewing on fingers, toys, or basically anything she can find.
What You Can Do
During teething, your baby is fussing because it hurts. The tips below aim at reducing the pain associated with newly erupting teeth, and therefore, reducing the baby’s fussiness.
Babies seem to feel relief from applying pressure to the area of eruption. This is why they like to chew on everything they can find. You can find “teething rings” at any store that sells baby items, and you will want to have several on hand. Make sure that you regularly clean and disinfect them, as your baby is putting these in his or her mouth. Do not share teething rings with other babies to avoid spreading illness.
Our favorite teething rings are the ones with liquid inside that you can freeze. The cold will help reduce inflammation as the baby chews. You can even give your baby a small metal spoon that you have “frozen” by placing in the freezer overnight. Make sure that the item is clean and too big to swallow.
Your baby may experience relief from teething pain by taking over-the-counter pain relievers like Infant Tylenol or Infant Motrin. Always check with your pediatrician before you give your baby any medication. Once you receive approval from your baby’s doctor, make sure you follow the exact dosage instructions on the packaging. Never give a higher dosage or a more frequent dosage than the instructions recommend!
Typically, you should see better results with Infant Motrin or Advil than Tylenol, because it contains anti-inflammatory properties.
Many people are fans of “teething tabs”, a popular homeopathic medication used for teething. These quick dissolve tablets contain a variety of homeopathic ingredients, and they are not FDA approved. ALWAYS speak to your baby’s pediatrician before administering anything to your child.
More Questions about Calming a Teething Baby?
Call Prosper Family Dentistry today at 972-347-1145 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara and Dr. Summer. We can answer any question you have about teething and even assess your baby’s mouth to confirm that everything is erupting normally.