Teething is a difficult time for both your baby and you. Your baby may experience discomfort while the first teeth begin to erupt through the gums. You may feel helpless trying to comfort your baby during the teething process. Some babies do not experience any symptoms while others may be fussy and irritable because of their swollen gums. While it is debatable whether other symptoms are related to teething or just coincidentally occur at the same time for some babies.
If your baby does have teething symptoms, there are some steps you can take to easy your baby’s discomfort. The most important thing to keep in mind through the process of teething is that it is temporary. As soon as those first teeth pop through the gum, your baby will give you precious toothy grins.
Baby Teething Process
Teething is a process. It may seem to take forever but in a matter of months, your baby will be flashing those beautiful teeth. The actual period of teething is just a few days or a week before the tooth erupts. It may seem like forever, but once the tooth can be seen, symptoms of teething should subside.
Signs and Symptoms of Baby Teething
Some babies are fortunate to seemingly avoid teething symptoms. Suddenly the tooth pops through the gum to the surprise of parents. Other babies seem to suffer for days or weeks before their first teeth erupt. The most common symptoms that seem to appear in teething are.
- Fussiness and irritability
- Increased drooling causing facial rash
- Swollen gums
- Excessive chewing on fingers, teething rings etc.
- Refusing feedings
- Sleep disruptions
- Diaper rash
- Loose stools
- Runny nose
Pediatricians differ on their opinions about teething symptoms. While most agree that there are some symptoms of teething such as fussiness and irritability due to swollen gums, not all doctors agree that other symptoms that seem to occur with teething are related to it. The American Academy of Pediatricians concludes that many of the symptoms that seem to show up during teething are, in fact, a coincidence. For example
While teething, babies are constantly putting things in their mouth (things around the house, parts of the stroller, grocery carts, etc.), increasing the exposure to germs and viruses that cause diarrhea or fever.
On the other hand, some pediatricians including Dr. William Sears, a pediatrician who has researched and written several books on baby development, believe that some of the above symptoms may occur during teething because they are directly related to other symptoms. For example:
- Diarrhea may occur because of increased saliva that is swallowed by the baby.The diarrhea causes diaper rash.
- Low grade fevers may appear because of irritation of the gums.
Whether all these symptoms are related to teething or not, if symptoms of fever and diarrhea persist or if the fever is high, a pediatrician should be contacted.
Baby Teething Timeline and Order
While the appearance of a baby’s primary teeth varies, the average age when baby’s begin is six months. However, there are babies that are born with a tooth or two. The general frame for the appearance of teeth is between three and twelve months. Tooth buds appear underneath the gums during development in the womb, so the time that the first tooth erupts is variable. Generally, teeth appear in the following order:
- The bottom middle teeth
- The top middle teeth
- Teeth along the sides and back
Usually, a full set of teeth will erupt between baby’s first and second year. The first set of molars usually do not appear until the third birthday. Once the teeth are all in, there will be twenty.
When do the primary teeth begin to fall out?
Typically, children begin to loose their primary teeth around the age of six. Of course, this will vary greatly among children.
The primary teeth should not become loose until the permanent teeth are ready to come in.
How To Take Care Of Your Teething Baby
It is difficult to see your baby is uncomfortable and knowing there is little you can do to help. Whether all symptoms are directly related to teething or some just appear coincidentally, there are steps a parent can take to alleviate baby’s discomfort.
- Give baby something clean to chew on – A firm rubber teething ring or a cold washcloth may help ease gum discomfort.
- Rub a clean finger on the sore gums
- If baby is old enough to sit up and can eat solid food, a teething biscuit may help – these unsweetened hard biscuits are made for baby to chew on.
- If baby is eating solid food, soft cold food like applesauce or yogurt may feel good
- Infant acetaminophen – Check with your baby’s pediatrician first and be sure of the proper dose
- Teething gels – These can cause side effects in some babies
When to call the doctor
If baby has a high fever or excessive diarrhea
- If baby is eighteen months and no teeth have appeared.
- If there is visible tooth decay
- If there is a facial injury that damages the tooth or gums
- If permanent teeth appear before all of the primary teeth have appeared
If any of the above appears, your pediatrician will refer you to a pediatric dentist who specializes in these situations.
Promoting healthy teeth
Once the first teeth begin to appear, dental health is important. Even before that, it is important to clean your babies gums after feedings. A warm, wet washcloth will do the trick. Once teeth are visible, there are some steps a parent can take to avoid tooth decay.
- Clean the teeth (and gums) with a soft cloth or gauze after feedings and at night. Water is all that is necessary when the first sets of teeth appear. As more teeth erupt, you switch to a baby toothbrush to gently clean the teeth.
- Avoid sugary foods once your baby is eating solids. Also, do not let the baby suck on a bottle after feeding, and eventually limit the amount of milk to what your pediatrician recommends.
- Your pediatrician will check your babies teeth during well checks. Once the teeth come in, you should take your baby to a dentist.
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