Care Tips for Teething Infants
Caring for a teething baby can be challenging. Many parents find themselves with a fussy, impossible-to-please infant in their arms during the various phases of teething. It is important to be able to recognize teething and help manage your baby’s discomfort.
This article will contain important tips to help you know what you need to know about teething in order to best care for your child.
What is Teething?
Teething is the common term we apply to the time during which a baby’s teeth begin pushing through the gums and making their way into the mouth. The process starts before you will actually see a tooth in your baby’s mouth. Your child’s teeth begin forming within the upper and lower jawbones while the baby is still in utero. They slowly grow in size and move toward the gums, where they will eventually push through to enter the mouth and begin functioning in chewing and speech.
The cause of teething is the pressure in the bone and gums resulting from the underlying tooth movement. As the teeth break through the gums, there is often localized inflammation, which can be painful to your baby.
Adults can actually experience the sensation of teething when they have wisdom teeth erupting into the mouth. There may be swelling, bleeding, and pain when chewing or brushing the teeth. People can also experience strong pressure in the jawbones and gum tissues.
Teething can be relatively difficult for parents to manage because the baby is unable to tell you what is wrong.
When Does Teething Occur?
Teething may occur each time a new tooth makes its way into the mouth. Your baby should eventually have a total of twenty primary (or “baby”) teeth. These baby teeth typically erupt (make their way through the gums and into the mouth) between the ages of six months and two years.
In general, you can expect a group of teeth to erupt every six months. Around age six to seven months, your child will get his front four teeth on the upper and lower jaws. The four first molars (one in each quadrant of the mouth) usually come in around one year of age. The four canines erupt at about eighteen months, and the second molars (four teeth the furthest back in each quadrant) are the last at approximately two years of age.
Unfortunately, teething can begin up to several months before a tooth actually makes its way through the gums. This means your child may go through the teething process off and on for about two full years.
What Signs Will my Baby Show when Teething?
The signs of teething range widely, including everything from a runny nose to large, bleeding swellings around the teeth. Your baby may have a relatively mild case of teething, or you may have a baby who cries non-stop for months at a time.
Here are some signs you may observe when your infant is teething.
- Being abnormally fussy
- Unable to be soothed with typical soothing methods (nursing, pacifier, rocking, car ride, etc . . .)
- Runny nose
- Excessive drooling
- Putting everything in his or her mouth
- Chewing on his or her fingers
- Turning a pacifier around and chewing on the hard, external portion
You should also attempt to examine your baby’s mouth. We often call the hard U-shaped bone in both upper and lower jaws the “ridge”. Evaluate these ridges for any of the following evidence of teething.
- Redness over an area about one or two teeth in width
- Swelling in the gums
- A hard white line along the ridge
- Small white bumps along the ridge
- An area that feels sharp or harder than the surrounding gums, when feeling with your finger
If you notice one of more of these signs from your child, you can assume he or she is teething. Then what do you do?
How Can I Care for my Teething Baby?
When your baby is teething, she is difficult to console. You may need to try one or all of these tactics to help your baby manage the pain of new teeth.
Most of the pain of teething comes from inflammation, and cold can reduce inflammation quickly and easily. You can give your baby small pieces of soft ice to chew on, and you can even hold a small “ice-pack” (just some ice in a small washcloth) over the site of the erupting tooth if the child lets you.
Some manufactures make teething toys filled with liquid that you can freeze, giving your baby something specific to chew on and provide cold to the site of discomfort.
Teething Rings or Toys
Teething rings or toys are items you can give your baby to chew or gnaw on without fear of swallowing or breaking anything. You can also sterilize these items by washing them by hand or in your dishwasher. They are durable and capable of withstanding both chewing forces and high temperatures.
Be careful if you have pets in the house. Teething toys look a lot like pet toys, and you do not want your baby and your furry friend sharing germs!
Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
When your baby has a fever accompanying a phase of teething, you should consider giving the child an over-the-counter pain reliever. Both Advil and Tylenol have infant formulas, designed specifically for babies. Make sure you follow the directions on the package strictly to give your child the correct dosage. If you are not sure whether you should give your child these over-the-counter medications, check with the baby’s pediatrician.
They can provide great relief from the fever and pain of teething, and they are safe for most babies.
Homeopathic Teething Remedies
Many parents prefer to use homeopathic teething remedies to drugstore medication. Check with your pediatrician before trying any homeopathic remedies, as some are not FDA approved and may be harmful to your child in large amounts.
What NOT to Do
It is tempting to do anything to get your child to calm down, we know. Some old wives’ tales recommend using a mixture of honey and whiskey to rub on a fussy baby’s gums. You should avoid anything containing sugar or alcohol in the ingredients list.
We also caution against using topical anesthetic gels like Anbesol and Orajel. These do contain the anesthetic benzocaine, but it is impossible to prevent your baby from swallowing it. Use it as minimally as possible.
More Questions about Teething?
Call your nearest Premier Dental of Ohio location and schedule a visit with one of our knowledgeable pediatric dental providers. We can answer any question you have about teething, assess your infant’s current situation, and give you customized recommendations for your particular phase of teething. We love seeing patients of every age, even teething babies!