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ParenTalk- Teething, and How Do I Help?

ParenTalk- Teething, and How Do I Help?

While you love your child’s toothless grins, your child will get their first teeth and look even more adorable. Teething or odontiasis is a major milestone in a child’s life. It is when teeth begin to sprout in the gum line. This time can be overwhelming for the child and the parents both. Amidst a lot of information, it is often difficult to figure out how to soothe the child when in pain and to ensure good oral health. To add to the woes, your child’s struggle with discomfort can disrupt the routine. Knowing what to expect and being prepared with remedies can help you tackle the important phase in your child’s life. Here is everything you need to know about teething symptoms in children and how to tackle them:

The right age for teething:

For most babies, teething begins between 4 and 7 months old. However, some babies experience it a lot later. Every child is unique. Do not worry if you do not spot the first teeth in the first year.

Signs that your child is teething:

Not all children may experience the same symptoms, but some of the teething symptoms include:

  • Swelling or tenderness in gums
  • Irritability and crying
  • Mild fever
  • Tendency to bite or chew
  • Excessive drooling that may cause rashes on the face
  • Loose bowels
  • Pulling ears or rubbing cheeks
    • Putting hands in the mouth
    • Change in eating or sleeping patterns

    When should you call the doctor?

    Teething can be uncomfortable for your child but shouldn’t make them unusually sick. Contact your pediatrician if you see extreme symptoms like diarrhea, body rashes, puking, high temperatures, cough, and congestion. Some other red flags include bleeding gums, swollen face, or pus.

    Which teeth will appear first?

    The order of tooth eruption varies from child to child. Hereditary also determines this order. However, in most cases, the lower front two teeth appear first, followed by the top two in the front and then the ones on either side of the top two. The next in order are the teeth next to the bottom two, followed by the first molars. The back molars appear last.

    You will spot a total of 20 teeth before your child turns 3.

    How to soothe your teething baby?

    There are many suggestions and anecdotes about soothing a teething baby. However, not everything may be safe or effective for your child. You may try any of the following to soothe teething symptoms in your child:

    • Give them something cold to keep in their mouth. It could be a cold spoon, pacifier, a cold teething toy, or a wet washcloth. Do not give frozen teethers as they are too cold and may hurt the child. Also, remember to clean any objects that you are giving the child to put in their mouth.
    • Offer them hard and unsweetened teething sticks or crackers to chew on.
    • For babies older the 6 months, you can offer cool water in a cup.

    Tip: If your child breast feeds, they may bite you while nursing. Save yourself by massaging their gums with cool water before feeding.

    Things to avoid while trying to soothe teething pain:

    Do not go by anecdotes and put objects in your child’s mouth that are not specifically proven to soothe teething. Beware of marketing ploys because many products described as teethers or teething aids are not safe for the child. These include:

    • Liquid filled teethers that can tear and spill easily
    • Teethers made using cheap plastic that can break
    • Very hard teethers can be too hard on the baby’s gums
    • Traditional beads that promise to ease teething pain

    Rubber teethers are the safest choice for your baby. Stay clear of unbranded teethers that may contain harmful substances like lead.

    Should you use teething necklaces: 

    According to guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics, teething necklaces are dangerous as they can strangle the baby or the baby may swallow and choke on beads. There is unscientific and unproven advice that states that amber teething necklaces release pain relievers upon heating, but medical practitioners advise against it. 

    Teething Medicines: 

    There are some over-the-counter medicines that you need to rub on the baby’s gums to relieve teething pain. The problem with these is that they quickly wash away and may numb the throat. This causes difficulty in swallowing.

    If you come across teething gels and liquids or a gifted any, stay clear of the ingredient benzocaine, as it is not recommended for children below the age of 2 years. It can cause serious side effects in the child.

    If your child is in serious discomfort, contact your doctor, who will prescribe a small dose of pain reliever. 

    The teething phase can be tough for children and parents alike, but it will get easier with time.

    Taking care of the baby’s new teeth:

    Good oral hygiene is critical for your child’s overall health. You need to lay the foundation for good oral hygiene even before the first tooth erupts. Here are some practices you must follow:

    • If your child doesn’t have teeth yet, clean their gums with a wet washcloth once a day.
    • Keep doing the same for the gums even after teeth erupt.
    • Use a finger toothbrush to brush right after the first tooth erupts.
    • Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for brushing. The AAP recommends you use fluoridated toothpaste. Do not worry about them ingesting because you are going to use a tiny amount.
    • Do not let the child have milk in a bottle to fall asleep, as this causes poor dental hygiene.
    • Excessive use of pacifiers can cause dental issues.

    It is common to think of fevers as part and parcel of a child’s teething journey. While mild fevers are ok, high fevers need immediate medical attention. It is a good idea to visit a dentist as soon as you spot your child’s first teeth. They will let you know of the precautions and best practices and also assess the oral health of your child.



    Smriti is a freelance content writer and an avid reader. She quit her 6 year-long IT career to embrace her love for writing. She writes content across genres and takes pride in her ability to research and carve magic with words. She passionately writes about parenting and is currently working on her book. When not writing or reading, she can be seen running behind any of her 2 kids or learning Deutsch.

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