Teething means the growth of teeth in the mouth of infants and children through the gums. In addition to teething, it is also called odontiasis. Teething in a baby is well awaited by every parent. Your baby is irritable and makes your night sleepless. Read on to find out everything about teething babies, symptoms, and remedies to keep your baby comfortable.
WHEN DOES TEETHING START?
One joy of parenthood is watching your little ones reach milestones and the eruption of your baby’s first tooth is an exciting milestone. Teething usually starts between 6 and 8 months of age, but in some babies, it starts much later. Babies usually have their complete set of 20 milk teeth by their 3rd birthday. If your baby doesn’t have any teeth by 18 months, then it may be due to some underlying medical cause like vitamin deficiency, malnutrition, or underactive thyroid. It’s time to see a doctor for evaluation.
SEQUENCE OF ERUPTION OF TEETH
- The two lower front teeth (lower central incisors) often erupt first in the mouth.
- Then the four upper front teeth (upper central and lateral incisors) erupt in the mouth after 4 to 8 weeks.
- About a month later, the lower lateral incisors erupt.
- Then lower and upper first molars erupt which are back teeth used for grinding food.
- Then the pointy teeth or canines erupt in the mouth.
- Finally, the lower and upper last molars erupt.
On average babies have
- 4 teeth by 11 months
- 8 teeth by 15 months
- 12 teeth by 19 months
- 16 teeth by 23 months
The roots of these 20 milk teeth degenerate by the age of 6 to 12 years and are replaced by permanent teeth.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY BABY WAS BORN WITH TEETH?
In some rare cases, babies have natal teeth that are present when a baby is born or neonatal teeth that erupt in the child’s mouth within the first month of birth. These teeth are usually loose and cause problems with breastfeeding, or damage your baby’s tongue. Your dentist may advise them to get removed if they pose a danger of being inhaled by your baby.
TEETHING SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
The symptoms may vary but most babies show these symptoms during teething-
- Irritability, fussiness, short-tempered and crying a lot
- Swollen and tender gums
- Loss of appetite or changes in eating pattern
- Trouble in sleeping due to gum discomfort
- Drooling is more than usual because teething stimulates saliva. Excessive drooling can lead to rash around the mouth
- Slight increase in temperature but no fever
- Gnawing or desire to chew hard things
- Pulling their ear or rubbing their cheek due to referred pain during the eruption of the molars
Rare teething symptoms
- High fever
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Rashes over the body
- Cough and congestion
If the baby is uncomfortable and has any of these symptoms, then it’s time to call your dentist or pediatrician as these are not normal signs of teething. These symptoms are due to other illnesses like any bacterial or viral infection. If your baby’s gums are bleeding or if there is any pus or swelling on the face, then also call your doctor.
HOW TO SOOTHE A TEETHING BABY?
Teething usually takes about 8 days which includes 4 days before and 3 days after the tooth comes out through the gum. A blue-grey bubble is seen on the gum where the tooth is about to erupt and it goes off as soon as the tooth erupts. When teeth begin to erupt, it might be tough for you to keep your child comfortable. You may need to try different things to soothe your little one.
Dry the drool- Gently wipe your baby’s face often with a soft cotton cloth to clean the saliva and to prevent rashes or irritation from developing on the face.
Chewing on something cold- Something cold in your baby’s mouth will help him feel better. So gently rub the gums of your baby with a moist cotton cloth or gauze pad, or give him a small cool spoon to give a soothing effect.
Teething rings and toys- A clean teether made of solid rubber can be given to the baby to chew. Take care to avoid plastic teether as it can break and can lead to choking or liquid-filled teething rings as they can tear and spill.
Rub your baby’s gums- Gently massage the gums of your baby with your clean finger in circular motions. Dip your fingers in cool water and massage their gums before each feeding. Let your baby gnaw your finger, if teeth haven’t erupted in the mouth. Become your baby’s chew toy for some time to soothe him.
Unsweetened teething biscuits- These can be given to infants over 6 months who have started eating solids. You can also offer a chilled slice of cucumber or any other fruit to chew but always keep an eye on them while eating as it could be a choking hazard.
Offer cold water- You can offer your baby a sippy or straw cup filled with cold water if the baby is older than 6 months.
Give your baby plenty of hugs and cuddles- The biggest comfort for a teething baby can be a mother’s hug. Rock the baby gently, keep them more comfortable and give some extra cuddles.
It’s good news that babies usually respond positively to these home remedies. The most painful stage of teething is when the last molars erupt as these are the biggest teeth and routine soothing methods usually don’t work at this time.
WHAT TEETHING REMEDIES ARE UNSAFE FOR BABIES?
1. TEETHING NECKLACES
Teething necklaces are not recommended as they are dangerous and can strangle the baby. If the necklace breaks, there is a chance that the baby can swallow the beads which can lead to choking.
Still, if you are using one then make sure to-
- Put it on the ankle or wrist and not around the baby’s neck
- Always keep an eye on your baby when they wear it
- Take it away when you are not watching your baby
2. NUMBING GELS OR TEETHING TABLETS
FDA recommends that parents should not use numbing gels for children younger than 2 years of age to avoid unnecessary risk. Oral gels that are rubbed on the gums washes away in the mouth and can numb the throat which makes swallowing difficult.
Don’t use teething gels and tablets for treating sore gums as they may not be safe for babies. Teething can be difficult for you and your baby at first. But when you learn how to soothe each new tooth that erupts then it becomes easier for both of you.
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF BABY’S NEW TEETH?
Good oral hygiene is always important for the baby. Some parents believe that caring for milk teeth is not important as they will fall off after some time. However, they are very important as they help the child in chewing food, speaking, and smiling.
Though the milk teeth will fall out naturally at the appropriate times, if they fall out quickly due to decay then it will create gaps between the primary teeth and permanent teeth may become crooked. Moreover, decay in milk teeth can lead to pain, swelling, and infection. So good oral hygiene and a healthy diet are a must for a healthy child.
STEPS OF DENTAL CARE IN BABIES
Daily dental care of your baby should start before the first tooth erupts. Clean the gums of your baby with a wet cotton cloth or clean gauze at least once a day.
When teeth start erupting, clean your baby’s teeth and gums in the same way at least twice a day especially after the morning feeding and before bed.
On their first birthday, start using a soft-bristled baby toothbrush with water and a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Try to brush their teeth at least twice a day, especially after meals.
You can also start flossing between their teeth later on. A good time to start flossing is when two teeth start to touch.
Try to make your child interested in this routine by letting them watch and imitate you as you brush and floss your teeth. Parents should monitor and help their child in brushing until their child is 7 or 8 years old.
Don’t let your baby fall asleep with a bottle of milk or juice as it can cause tooth decay and plaque accumulation.
Monitor your baby’s teeth for decay and if there are any dental caries, visit your dentist. The first visit of a child to the dentist should be by the first birthday of the child.
Remember regular childhood dental care and regular dental visits helps in maintaining a lifetime of healthy gums and teeth.
HOW TO PREVENT BABY TOOTH DECAY?
Decayed baby teeth can result in pain, swelling, and infection and if the infection is severe, then teeth may need to be removed. Tooth decay can also lead to impaired growth of permanent teeth. Various methods to prevent tooth decay in babies are-
- Don’t give your baby sweetened beverages like fruit juice, soda, or sugar water. Help your little one by giving water instead of sugary drinks.
- Never dip your baby’s pacifier in sugar as this can lead to cavities in the front teeth of your little one.
- If your baby drinks from a bottle then make sure that your baby finishes her bottle before bedtime as the long-term exposure to sugar-containing liquids can cause Nursing Bottle Syndrome.
- Milk and other food items also contain natural sugars, so it is advisable to thoroughly brush the teeth of your child twice daily.
It’s never too late to start good oral hygiene measures and if ant tooth is decayed, then it’s time to visit a dentist.
LOSS OF BABY TEETH
From the age of around 6 years, milk teeth start to wobble and will fall out to give a way to the permanent teeth. It is normal for a child to lose their first tooth 1 year earlier or later than 6 years of age. The first tooth to fall is usually the first tooth that has erupted which is the lower front tooth. Girls generally lose teeth earlier than boys. The approximate age when milk teeth fall out is:
- Central incisor- 6 to 7 years
- Lateral incisor- 7 to 8 years
- First molar – 9 to 11 years
- Canine- 9 to 12 years
- Second molar – 10 to 12 years
This transition phase of losing baby teeth is very painful and unsettling for young children. Various suggestions for parents are-
- Reassure your child that it is a normal process and slight pain and bleeding is expected from the gums. Losing baby teeth and getting permanent teeth may cause little or no discomfort.
- If the child is having more pain, cold packs or over-the-counter pain killers can be given to relieve the pain. Ask your dentist for a prescription if the pain and discomfort are more.
- Make use of the tooth fairy– This myth can help in providing comfort to the child who is experiencing pain or fear due to the loss of a tooth. Ask your child to place the milk teeth under their pillow and tell them that the tooth fairy will visit when they sleep and will leave a coin for them.
Use safe measures from our suggested remedies for your teething baby and there is no need to take a risk. These remedies along with lots of love will help your baby to stay happy and comfortable.