How to Help Your Teething Baby

How to Help Your Teething Baby

Is your teething baby irritable during the day and sleepless at night — keeping you awake, as well? Unfortunately, teething is a milestone in an infant’s development that involves pain and discomfort. As a new parent, you want to make this process as comfortable as possible. Whether your baby is currently teething — or you just want to be prepared for when the time comes — our team at NK Family Dental offers this guide for what to expect and when, as well as how to help provide relief.

A Teething Timeline

Teeth begin developing in utero, with all 20 primary teeth present below the gumline at birth. Although the timing varies, teeth typically begin emerging at age six months. Primary teeth emerge in a specific order during the teething period. Colgate provides the following timeline:

Within the first year — The first teeth start emerging; they’re usually the two bottom front teeth, also known as the central incisors. Next, come the top four teeth, called the central and lateral incisors.

13-14 months — Upper and lower first molars come in.

16-17 months — Upper and lower canines come in.

23-25 months — Upper and lower second molars come in.

Age three — All 20 primary teeth have emerged.

Common Symptoms of Teething

We don’t remember our own teething, but the journey that “baby teeth” make unfortunately isn’t without physical discomfort. Some babies experience no pain, although most do. Here are common symptoms to look for, courtesy of Colgate, Mayo Clinic and MouthHealthy:

Crankiness — If your baby seems cranky despite otherwise being healthy, a tooth may be pushing through.

Drooling — Some babies drool so much from teething that it soaks their clothes. They may even develop a rash on their cheeks and chin from the excess moisture. To keep your baby comfortable, gently dry their chin and change wet clothes throughout the day.

Loss of appetite — If your baby doesn’t want to nurse or eat, it may be a teething symptom, as eating can irritate sore gums. If you’re concerned that your baby isn’t eating enough, make an appointment with your pediatrician.

Rubbing their gums — Babies generally love to put things in their mouth, but rubbing objects on their gums may become excessive when the teething process begins.

Wakefulness — If your baby usually sleeps peacefully but has begun waking up at night or is refusing to take naps, it may be a sign of teething.

If you observe two or more of these signs, your baby is likely teething. Although teething might cause a slight rise in your child’s temperature, fever is not a typical symptom. Neither is diarrhea. Immediately contact your on-call pediatrician if your child develops a fever or has diarrhea, as it could be a sign of a serious condition.

How to Treat Teething — and What Not to Do

Teething can be a cause for concern for parents (especially first-time parents), as they may not be sure if it’s the reason for their baby’s distress. After all, your baby can’t tell you what’s wrong! After becoming familiar with the general timeline for primary teeth to erupt and teething symptoms, however, teething is a safe assumption. And after the first two teeth emerge, you’ll be certain the process is underway.

So how can you make the process less uncomfortable for your baby? There are some tried-and-true tips and methods. But be careful, as there also are some “remedies” and items marketed for teething that are harmful. We begin with the following list of what to do:

Rub your baby’s gums — Use a wet gauze or clean finger to gently rub its gums. The mild pressure of this action can help ease discomfort. Be careful not to press too firmly.

Keep it cool — A cold spoon or teething ring can soothe tender gums. Refrigerate such items, but don’t put them in the freezer. Look for teethers made of solid rubber. Avoid liquid-filled teething rings, or plastic objects that can break.

Comfort your baby — Gently rocking your child while rubbing its gums, applying a cold spoon or giving a teething ring will provide reassurance and a sense of security. It may not directly relieve pain, but will help make your baby feel safe!

Ask your pediatrician about OTC pain medications — Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may help to ease the pain. WARNING: Do not administer without first consulting with your pediatrician! Only your pediatrician can provide specific recommendations and dosage information for safe pain relief.

Continuing on this cautionary note, there are things that you should not do. Some may not be obvious, as some of these remedies and items are sold in stores or promoted as teething aids. We list the following:

Numbing compounds containing topical benzocaine — Similar to the gel used by dental professionals, such products are readily available, sold by major brands. However, as Colgate notes, “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns parents about the adverse, grave effects of using benzocaine for children under two years of age. So, it’s essential to utilize other options. As always, you should check with your child’s dentist or physician before using any product for teething relief.”

Homeopathic teething tablets — The FDA also urges parents not to use homeopathic teething tablets after lab testing found inconsistent amounts of belladonna, a toxic substance, in certain such tablets, sometimes far exceeding the amount claimed on the label.

“The body’s response to belladonna in children under two years of age is unpredictable and puts them at unnecessary risk,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Homeopathic teething products have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA for safety or effectiveness, and the agency reports it is unaware of any proven health benefit of the products.

Teething necklaces, bracelets or anklets — These items pose a risk of choking, strangulation, mouth injury and infection.

And this advice from MouthHealthy:

“Also, be aware of what the teethers you choose for your child are made from. Just because something is marketed as a teether doesn’t always mean it’s safe. In a September 2017 report, the Center for Disease Control published a case reported of an infant who suffered lead poisoning after chewing on a bracelet. The bracelet, which the child’s parents said was a homeopathic magnetic hematite health bracelet intended to help ease the child’s discomfort from teething, had metal beads which contained lead.”

What About Teething Biscuits?

Teething biscuits are specially made biscuits that do not crack or crumble. Instead, they dissolve on contact with your baby’s gums, stimulating and soothing them in the process. Do not introduce them before eight months of age, and supervise your baby to prevent the possibility of choking. Although teething biscuits have benefits, look for brands that don’t contain sugar. Even baby teeth are susceptible to tooth decay!

Caring for Your Baby’s Primary Teeth — Starting Good Habits for a Lifetime of Good Oral Health

As your baby’s first teeth emerge, regularly wipe teeth and gums with a warm cloth to prevent tooth decay. Our blog post — “How to Instill Good Oral Hygiene Habits in Your Child” — covers this topic in detail, as well as strategies to encourage your child to brush and floss regularly when old enough!  

As we always advocate, it is crucial to place your child under the care of a good dentist to build a lifelong commitment to oral health. According to the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), a child’s first visit should be when the first tooth erupts in the mouth — no later than age one. According to the ADA, a baby can get cavities as soon as he or she has teeth.

Pediatric dentistry is one of the specialized services we offer at NK Family Dental. We take great pride in providing a warm, welcoming environment for young patients to give them a positive experience with every visit.

It is our mission to provide the highest quality and most compassionate oral care to our Chicago patients, including both dental and periodontal services. Our practice is trusted for advanced oral surgery procedures and comfortable root canal treatment.

Our team of experienced, dedicated dental professionals will help address your oral health concerns, and determine the best solution for you based on your individual situation. We strive to identify treatment options that fit your needs.

Our dental specialists include our general dentist, Dr. Nilofer Khan, our endodontist, Dr. Sabek, and our periodontist, Dr. Amir Danesh. Dr. Danesh is a board-certified periodontist and Diplomat of the American Board of Periodontology. He has contributed to the publication of two books, as well as published over 20 papers in prestigious dental research journals.

We serve the neighborhoods of Logan Square, Bucktown, Humboldt Park, and Wicker Park with the dedication that’s earned us the reputation as the Best Dentist in Chicago!

We understand that the main concern you may have is cost, which is why we accept all major PPO plans for dental insurance and also offer our in-house dental plan. Please see our financing page for more information.

Schedule your visit through ZocDoc, or contact us directly. We look forward to treating you soon!


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