Through your child’s first year of life, he or she will undergo many physical and mental changes. One of the most exciting is seeing those first teeth pop through, but this change can be uncomfortable for your baby (and, at times, exhausting for you).
Typically, teething begins between the age of 4-7 months, but every baby is different, so they could show earlier or later. The two front teeth, either on the top or bottom, will usually be the first to appear, followed by the other two front teeth (whichever didn’t grow first), then first molars, and canines. Again, the order may not be the same for every baby. Signs your baby is teething may appear before you even begin to see any appearance beneath the gums. Your baby may begin excessively drooling and showing a desire to chew on whatever object they can find. As teething progresses, you may notice your baby is more irritable and sleeping could become disrupted. A low fever could develop, but note that anything over 101 degrees Fahrenheit is not associated with teething, so contact your doctor if these symptoms appear with a fever that temperature or above.
Thankfully, there are many ways you can help your baby break those teeth through and provide comfort to his or her swollen, tender gums:
- Gently rub or massage the gums with a clean finger
- Provide firm rubber teething rings. If using a frozen teether, ensure it is pliable and not too hard, as it can end up causing more harm than good.
- If necessary, give your child a dose of Tylenol or Ibuprofen per your pediatrician’s instructions.
- DO NOT use over-the-counter teething medications that are rubbed directly on the gums with benzocaine, such as Baby Orajel, or teething tablets containing the plant poison belladonna. The FDA has issued warnings for both of these products as they have the potential for dangerous side effects.
Once your baby’s teeth have made their way through, it’s time to start brushing! Getting your child used to a toothbrush early will help make the practice easier as they get older. Use a soft, child’s toothbrush without fluoride toothpaste since they are unable to spit it out. There are some infant toothpastes available that do not include fluoride, but discuss with your pediatrician before use.
Your baby’s teeth are an exciting step towards new changes, like trying solid foods, but the process isn’t always an easy one. Be prepared early and provide your baby with ways to help ease the discomfort of the teeth pushing through. If you have questions about your baby’s teeth, or aren’t sure if current fussiness and symptoms are caused by teething or illness, contact us today.