When your little baby angel turns into a cranky baby, there’s a chance he or she might be teething. Is she drooling? Rubbing his mouth or ears? Trying to eat anything in sight or can get his or her lips on? Perhaps a little more diaper rash than usual? Or even running a slight fever? You might want to try to run your finger around your baby’s gums to see if you feel any sharpness or raised bumps – yup! Those are teeth coming in! Usually the two front bottom teeth are first to come in and are followed by the two front top ones. Ari, who is 10-months-old and my boyfriend’s niece, is currently teething. We usually call her “Stealth” because she is so mellow-tempered and a happy little baby, but recently she seems uncomfortable and crying and especially “drooly”! Keep that bib handy for a little sweep of the mouth.
We have helped her by giving her something cool – my mom always suggests wetting a soft baby cloth and putting it in the freezer for 10 minutes to cool it off and give it to your baby – shocking, it works (I guess mom IS always right!). You can also buy the teething toys at most baby stores and pop those in the freezer too. For pain relief, many parents swear by homeopathic remedies like Hyland’s Teething Tablets. Acetaminophen also helps, but check with the doctor for the right dosage. So what if you don’t’ have any real evidence that a tooth might appear soon? Eh, just blame it on “She’s teething!” when she is crying or chewing on your couch pillow during play group. Just kidding.
On a serious note, teething, the emergence of the first teeth through a baby’s gums, can be a frustrating time babies and their parents.
The Steps of Teething
Teething can begin as early as 3 months and continue until a child’s third birthday. Between the ages of 4 and 7 months, you’ll notice your baby’s first tooth pushing through the gum line. The first teeth to appear usually are the two bottom front teeth, later followed by the four front upper teeth. About a month later, the lower two teeth flanking the bottom front teeth will appear.
Next to break through the gum line are the first molars (the back teeth used for grinding food), then finally the eyeteeth (the pointy teeth in the upper jaw). Most kids have all 20 of their primary teeth by their third birthday.
As kids begin teething, they might drool more and want to chew on anything in site. For some babies, teething is painless, but for others, there may be signs of being cranky for weeks, crying, or disrupted sleeping patterns.
According to Kids Health Organization, “Although tender and swollen gums could cause your baby’s temperature to be a little higher than normal, teething doesn’t usually cause high fever or diarrhea. If your baby does develop a fever during the teething phase, it’s probably due to something else and you should contact your doctor.”
Soothing Teething Pain & Tips
- Wipe your baby’s face often with a soft and clean cloth to remove drool and especially to prevent rashes from developing.
- Give your baby something to chew on. Make sure it’s big enough so that it can’t be swallowed
- Rub your baby’s gums with a clean finger.
- Never tie a teething ring around a baby’s neck — it could get caught on something and strangle the baby.
- If your baby seems irritable, acetaminophen may help — but always consult your doctor first. Never place an aspirin against the tooth, and don’t rub alcohol on your baby’s gums.
Do you brush new baby teeth?
Taking care of your baby’s teeth is important for long-term dental health. Daily dental care should begin even before your baby’s first tooth emerges. You are probably thinking I am crazy, but it is highly recommended by doctors to wipe your baby’s gums daily with a clean, damp washcloth or gauze, or brush them gently with a soft, infant-sized toothbrush and water (no toothpaste!). As soon as the first tooth appears, brush it with water!
Toothpaste is OK to use once a child is old enough to spit it out — usually around age 3. By the time all your baby’s teeth are in, try to brush them at least twice a day and especially after meals. Another important tip for preventing tooth decay: Don’t let your baby fall asleep with a bottle. The milk or juice can pool in a baby’s mouth and cause tooth decay and plaque.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that kids see a dentist by age 1, when six to eight teeth are in place, to spot any potential problems and advise parents about preventive care.