Written by dentist, Dr. Zeenat Jakhura
Teething is the process whereby the teeth emerge through the gums. The eruption of primary teeth in children can be distressing for the child and the mum.
Although timing varies widely, babies often begin teething by about 6 months. The two bottom front teeth are usually the first to appear, followed by the two top front teeth.
Teething symptoms come before the teeth actually pop out of the gum.
Your baby may seem more bothered by teething discomfort at night when there are fewer distractions.
Teething continues on and off till your baby reaches 3 years.
Your baby can be teething if he/she has some of these signs:
Red, swollen or bulging gums
Chewing on objects
Irritability or crankiness
Increase in temperature- Usually without a fever
Disturbed sleep–Teething can cause some children to wake up several times through the night.
Loss of appetite
Face Rubbing or ear pulling
If your teething baby seems uncomfortable, consider these simple tips:
Rub your baby’s gums. Use a clean finger to rub your baby’s gums. The pressure can ease your baby’s discomfort.
Keep the gums cool. A cold spoon or chilled — not frozen — teething ring or cold washcloth can be soothing on your baby’s gums. To avoid cavities, don’t dip these items in sugary substances.
Hard sugar-free rusks or breadsticks. If you offer a teething biscuit, make sure to watch your baby while he/she is eating it.
Frozen fruits or vegetables. Again make sure your baby does not choke.
Teething toys. Soft rubber toys that are safe for your baby to chew on for relief.
A chilled pacifier.
Try an over-the-counter remedy. If your baby is especially cranky, consider giving him/her infants’ or children’s over-the-counter pain medications such as paracetamol or ibuprofen .
You can pour some of these syrups on your finger and massage the gum.
Some babies prefer to nurse more often during teething for the comfort it provides, while for others the sucking action can make the pain worse. If you’re worried about your baby biting, gently massage their gums every so often using a clean finger or knuckle to help relieve the discomfort. If they do bite, pulling them away suddenly and yelling “ouch!” will usually give them the message.
Distraction- Comforting or playing with your baby can distract them from any pain in their gums.
If teething is making your baby dribble more than usual, gently wiping their face at regular intervals may help prevent a rash.
What treatments should I avoid?
To keep your baby safe, avoid using:
Over-the-counter remedies, including homeopathic teething tablets. The benefits of topical gels and teething tablets haven’t been manifested. In recent years, some homeopathic remedies contain the ingredient belladonna, which can cause seizures and difficulty in breathing.
Teething medications containing benzocaine or lidocaine. These pain relievers can be harmful — even fatal — to your baby.
Teething necklaces, bracelets or anklets. There’s no proven data that they work. These items pose a risk of choking, strangulation, mouth injury and infection.
Teething can usually be handled at home. Contact the doctor if your baby seems particularly uncomfortable or if teething seems to be interfering with their eating or drinking or if your baby has a high fever or excessive diarrhoea.
Hang in there…. It may not feel like it but the teething phase will pass.