February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and of all the dental issues that plague parents, none may be worse than a teething baby. Teething is frustrating, tiring and don’t forget painful for your tiny tot. And while most people wouldn’t think of teething as something a dentist would talk about, it’s incredibly important to address. A child’s first visit to the dentist should be scheduled soon after the appearance of their first tooth, which means a good family dentist will be critical during this time and your go-to professional to ask questions to during teething.
Teething often is misidentified for other conditions, especially when the parents are first-time parents. Although teething can be a (literal) pain, it’s one more milestone to check off of your baby’s list. So what are the signs and symptoms of teething? And what are tips to get parents (and baby) through this trying and sometimes scary time? Read our tips for teething tots and how to make this period in your baby’s life just a little easier.
While it all depends on the child and genetics, typically the first tooth appears in a baby’s mouth around 6 months of age, but it can range from 3 to 14 months. The American Dental Association’s tooth eruption chart can serve as a guide for new parents who are greatly unaware what to expect. As we mentioned before, all dentists agree that scheduling an appointment soon after the first tooth appears (typically no longer than 6 months after) will help your family begin to develop good and healthy dental habits with your baby.
If by chance your child is not hitting the milestones they should be and a tooth is still not present around 1 year of age, schedule an appointment with your family dentist anyway to ensure everything is developing normally and your child is on their way to their first toothy smile in no time.
Symptoms of Teething
There are an awful lot of old wive’s tales that mention things like diarrhea, fevers and rashes or symptoms that look a lot like a cold as things to expect when a baby is teething, however, if your child shows any of these symptoms, a doctor’s visit may be necessary. None of these symptoms have been proven to be linked to teething. Some symptoms that are completely normal and are related to teething are:
- Crankiness or fussiness
- Loss of appetite
- Drooling (more than the norm)
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Increased chewing, especially on solid things
- Swollen or red and irritated gums
Parents can rest assured that anything on this list (and even some others not on this list) are perfectly normal for a child that is teething. As always, if there are any concerns on what is or is not normal, speak to your family dentist, as a quality family dentist will be well-versed in all teething-related questions.
Sore, tender gums are not a recipe for a happy baby, but lucky for parents, there are plenty of ways to calm and soothe a teething child. Dentists recommend that parents try over-the-counter pain medications, such as Tylenol or other medications safe for your baby that contain acetaminophen. Be sure to check with your doctor or dentist if you are unsure of what medication is safe for your child.
Some parents choose to not use medication and look to more natural remedies to make their baby more comfortable. A refrigerated teething ring or a small cool (not freezing) spoon provides instant relief for sore and tender gums. A moist gauze pad or even rubbing a clean finger along the baby’s gum line can alleviate pain. Simply rocking a baby after a warm bath has also been known to calm a baby during teething.
Avoid giving your child hard food to chew on, as this can damage the incoming teeth or gums. The FDA also recommends that parents not use anything containing benzocaine, or local numbing agents, like Anbesol or Baby Orajel.
Once teeth do begin to break through the gums, make sure you care for your baby’s new teeth properly. While toothpaste isn’t as important at this point in your baby’s dental health journey, using a washcloth to clean your baby’s mouth will help begin good dental health habits. And, once the first tooth does appear, find a family dentist who is caring, experienced, gentle and will make your baby’s first visit comfortable, like West Chester Dental Arts. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!