Is Your Baby Teething?
At about six months of age, most babies begin teething. By no coincidence, at about the same time, many happy-go-lucky infants transform into grumpy little grouches. Any way you look at it, teething doesn’t feel good.
Some babies have a much harder time teething than others. One thing is for certain: knowing what to expect and being prepared will make it easier for both of you.
Baby teeth, or milk teeth tend to erupt in this sequence:
- The lower central incisors (two bottom front teeth)
- Upper central incisors (two top front teeth)
- Upper lateral incisors (on either side of the front teeth)
- Lower lateral incisors (on either side of the bottom teeth)
- Then, the remaining teeth (cuspids, first molars, second molars) fill in from front to back.
Most infants will cut four new teeth every four months until all 20 appear, usually by the time toddlers are two-and-a-half to three years old.
Teething Signs and Symptoms
Parents, pediatricians, and researchers have reported a wide range of teething-related symptoms, including:
- Red, swollen gums at the teething site
- Excessive drooling
- Facial rash
- Increased chewing and sucking on fingers and toys
- Irritability and wakefulness
- Ear pulling and rubbing
- Loss of appetite for solid foods
- A low-grade fever
According to one study, the actual teething period averages eight days. Tracking 125 babies, researchers found that teething symptoms increased significantly in the four days before the tooth emerged, on the day of emergence, and during the three days following it. This may not seem like a long time, unless you’ve ever spent eight endless days and nights trying to soothe an inconsolable baby. That’s where being prepared comes in.
There are a number of things you can do to ease baby’s discomfort. Every child is different, you may have to experiment until you find what works for your baby.
- Try rubbing a clean finger, a small, cool spoon, or a wet gauze pad over baby’s reddened gum. Some babies find that gentle pressure brings teething relief.
- Let baby indulge his desire to chew by providing him with teethers of various types and textures. Some infants respond togum massagers, while others prefer a soft, natural rubber teether.
- Offer baby something cold to cool those inflamed gums, like a wet face cloth, chilled applesauce, or a piece of frozen fruit.
- Consider topical, pain-relieving gels designed specifically for teething infants.
- Offer distractions. Go for a stroll or a ride, bring out some new toys, or give baby a gentle massage.
- Offer comfort in the form of soft music, a favorite teddy bear, or a soothing blankie.
- Stay calm. Babies are experts at picking up on their parents’ anxiety, so you owe it to your child to take things in stride.
Taking Care of Those New Teeth
Once that first tooth emerges, it’s time to schedule a wellness visit to baby’s dentist, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Experts agree that babies should see the dentist before their first birthday.
Your child will keep those primary teeth until about age six, so it’s important to keep them healthy and sound.
American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
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