Your baby is cranky, crying, and chewing on everything. If your child is between 6 months and a year, it's likely that they're teething. What do you need to know about your baby's first teeth? Take a look at top questions answered about this sometimes challenging time.
What Are the Symptoms of Teething?
The degree to which babies experience teething symptoms varies, depending on the infant. While some babies experience little-to-no teething issues, others are fussy or irritable for no apparent reason. Some babies also refuse to feed, drool excessively, or gnaw on solid objects (this can include toys, clothing, their own hands, or even a parent's hand).
You may also notice that your baby's gums are red and slightly swollen. If your baby's gums are cracked, bleeding, swollen, or abnormal in any other way, contact the dentist immediately to rule out an infection or other dental/medical cause.
While some parents claim that their children have fevers, diarrhea, or a runny nose when teething, these aren't typical signs. It's more likely that a fussy, crying baby with any of these symptoms has a virus or bacterial infection. Contact your child's pediatrician if you notice any of these issues.
How Long Does Teething Last?
While there's a generally accepted progression of dental development, don't expect your child to teethe on a set schedule. Every child is an individual — meaning that no definitive teething time exists. Baby teeth typically erupt between 6 months of age and just under 3 years.
Your child won’t likely experience constant teething troubles throughout this time. Teething pain may start days to weeks before the tooth actually erupts, subsiding and returning for the next tooth or teeth.
What Soothes Teething Pain?
The irritability, fussiness, and loss of appetite that many babies experience with teething comes from pain or discomfort. Things you can do to soothe your baby's pain include:
- Rub the gums. Gentle rub your baby's gums with a clean finger or clean, damp washcloth.
- Use a moist gauze pad. You can also rub or gently pat your baby's gums with a moistened gauze pad.
- Try a teether. A solid rubber teether gives your baby something to chew on, relieving some of their pain.
If you’re wondering why teething gels, creams, necklaces, and jewelry aren't on this list, read on to learn more about these products.
What Teething Products Aren't Safe to Use?
Not every medication or item that's marketed as a teething cure is effective. Beyond that, some products are dangerous. The soothing items that experts don't recommend include:
- Numbing products. Benzocaine-containing gels, creams, and drops are not safe for infants, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In high amounts, these products can limit amount of oxygen the blood carries, causing a dangerous medical condition called methemoglobinemia.
- Teething necklaces and jewelry. Even though these may seem like a natural alternative, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns that teething jewelry poses a choking or strangulation hazard.
- Liquid-filled teethers. These plastic products or rings are filled with a liquid that supposedly soothes baby's teeth when frozen. These can break, allowing the liquid to leak out into the baby's mouth.
- Frozen foods. While chilled foods can soothe pain, they also present a choking hazard for babies and toddlers. Never allow your young child to suck on frozen whole fruits or other similar items.
If you're unsure about the safety of a specific product, always ask the dentist before giving it to your child.
Now that your child has their first teeth, they're ready to see the dentist for a checkup. Contact Couchman Center for Complete Dentistry for more information.