Teething can be an uncomfortable situation for many children and also a very painful and stressful time for your infant. As a parent, you can help ease or completely eliminate your child’s discomfort by learning what you can do to ease the pain.
Teething occurs between 6 months and 24 months of age although it can occur earlier. Normally the bottom two incisors (front most teeth) will come in, followed by the top four incisors. Children will often drool excessively or gnaw on any hard object they can find.
The child’s gums may appear tender and swollen; often, in fact, the cheeks near the affected gums will become red. While most children go through the teething experience without any pain, some toddlers are not so lucky. These children may be extremely irritable.
Some teeth come through with no trouble at all; in other cases, the gum may be sore and red where the tooth is pushing its way out. A child may dribble, gnaw and chew a lot or just be fretful, but it is difficult to tell if this is really due to teething.
Tips to help:
To help your child, rub the gums with a clean wet finger or use a cold spoon to gently rub the gums. This will help ease the pain and often soothes an irritated child.
Chilled teething rings are another popular option. When using a teething ring, make sure it is chilled but not frozen, as frozen teething rings may cause frostbite to lips and gums.
Many parents allow their children to chew on a clean cold wash rag or wrap cold ice in a washcloth and allow children to chew on this. If you do, please watch your child to make sure they do not accidentally choke on ice that may work its way out of the washcloth.
Other parents provide a cold carrot or celery stick to chew on. Once again, if you chose this option do not leave your child unattended as they could choke on loose pieces of celery or carrot.
Providing “teething biscuits” or other hard foods (frozen bananas) is not a good idea as these promote tooth decay.
Teething gels containing local anesthetics can provide some pain relief from sore gums.
Taking care for your child’s teeth:
- Start brushing as soon as teeth appear.
- Brush thoroughly twice a day (just before bed is important).
- Help your child brush until they are able to do it well by themselves – usually around the age of seven.
- Use fluoride toothpaste and encourage your child to spit after brushing; do not rinse afterwards as this reduces the benefits of the fluoride in the toothpaste.
- Use a tiny smear of toothpaste for babies and a pea-sized amount for children.
- Young children will swallow the toothpaste; use a children’s toothpaste with reduced fluoride until they are able to spit well.