How to care for a teething child
What is teething?
Teething is when your baby begins to grow his or her first set of teeth, usually called temporary or milk teeth.
When does teething typically start?
Some babies are born with their first teeth. Others start teething before they are 4 months old, and some after 12 months. But most babies start teething at around 6 months.
In what order do baby teeth appear in?
- Babies’ teeth usually appear in the following order;
- Bottom incisors (lower front teeth) – these are usually the first to appear, at around 5 to 7 months.
- Top incisors (upper front teeth) – appear around 6 to 8 months.
- Top lateral incisors (either side of the upper front teeth) – appear around 9 to 11 months.
- Bottom lateral incisors (either side of the lower front teeth) – appear at around 10 to 12 months.
- First molars (back teeth) – appear at around 12 to 16 months.
- Canines (towards the back of the mouth) – appear at around 16 to 20 months.
- Second molars – appear at around 20 to 30 months.
- Most children will have all of their milk teeth by the time they are two and a half years old.
How do you know your child is teething?
Babies teeth sometimes emerge without pain, discomfort or any other symptoms. Symptoms usually begin about 3 to 5 days before the tooth shows, and they disappear as soon as the tooth breaks the skin.
- At other times, you may notice;
- Your baby’s gum is sore, red and tender where the tooth is coming through.
- Your baby is dribbling more than usual.
- They gnaw and chew on things a lot.
- They are more fretful than usual.
- Drooling saliva.
- Flushing of the cheek.
- Chewing on solid objects.
- Irritability or crankiness.
Many parents suspect that teething causes fever and diarrhoea, but researchers say this isn’t true. Teething can cause signs and symptoms in the mouth and gums, but not elsewhere in the body.
What to do when your child is teething?
If your teething baby seems uncomfortable, consider these simple tips:
Cool massage: In the same way ice works on a sprained ankle to numb pain and reduce swelling, cold compresses and other items soothe sore gums. Put a wet wash cloth in a clean plastic bag and chill it in the refrigerator. Then you can give your baby to munch on. The fabric massages between the ridges between the gums and the cold numbs the pain. A refrigerated teether or pacifier also works the same way, however the teether or pacifier should never be kept in the freezer because it can get hard enough to damage your baby’s gum.
Apply Pressure: You can use a clean finger or moisturizer gauze pad to rub your baby’s gums. Teething babies love to feel pressure on their gums because it distracts their brain from the sensation of teething pain.
Try hard foods: If your baby is eating solid foods, you might offer something edible for gnawing — such as a peeled and chilled cucumber or carrot.
Dry the drool: Excessive drooling is part of the teething process. To prevent skin irritation, keep a clean cloth handy to dry your baby’s chin.
Topical medications: Numbing gels or creams that you rub on your baby’s gums to relieve teething pain are available over the counter in drug stores. However, it is recommended that topical medications containing benzocaine shouldn’t be used on children younger than 2 years without guidance from a doctor. This is because your baby may swallow the medication with saliva which can inadvertently numb the throat and interfere with gag reflex making it harder not to choke. In rare cases benzocaine can cause methemoglobinemia, a serious condition in which the amount of oxygen in the blood drops dangerously low.
Painkillers: If nothing is working and your baby needs relief, your doctor might recommend trying an over-the-counter painkiller like acetaminophen (paracetamol)
Do not give your baby any drug except recommended by your doctor.
Danger Signs/ When to take your child to the hospital
Home treatment usually helps relieve minor teething symptoms such as discomfort, drooling, and irritability, but talk to your doctor if your child has other symptoms that become severe or last longer than a couple of days.
Other teething problems that require you to contact your doctor are if your baby;
· Is age 18 months and has not had any teeth comeing.
· Has visible signs of tooth decay.
· Has permanent teeth coming in before the primary teeth are lost, resulting in a double row of teeth.
· Has a small jaw or a birth defect of the mouth or jaw, such as cleft palate.
· Has any facial injury that has damaged a tooth or gum.
How to care for your baby’s new teeth?
Now that your baby’s teeth are on their way in, it’s time to start taking care of them. Even though this set will only be around for a short time, their health is essential to your baby’s gums and the future permanent teeth. Make sure your baby’s new teeth get the best care.
1. Start before baby’s teeth come in
Start cleaning your child’s mouth even before the teeth come in. Wipe the gums off after each feeding with a warm, wet wash cloth or a dampened piece of gauze wrapped around your finger. You can also buy thimble-like, soft rubbery devices to use for rubbing off excess food.
2. Take care of them right away
Once the teeth begin coming in, start taking care of them right away. The first teeth preserve the space for the permanent ones and help baby chew and talk. If they’re not cared for properly they can decay, leading to a gum infection called gingivitis, which can affect the spacing of permanent teeth.
3. Avoid cavities
The first signs of cavities in baby teeth are discolouration and minor pitting. Putting your baby to bed with a bottle of milk (or worse, juice) can cause cavities. Don’t leave your infant with a bottle for long periods of time, especially if you notice he’s no longer feeding and is just using the bottle for comfort.
4. Follow meals with water
Wash your baby’s teeth with water after meals especially once they start eating only solid foods and have enough teeth, usually around 18 months. You can also use soft toothbrush especially after taking sticky, sugary foods.
5. Brush with toothpaste at age 2
Begin using a pea-size amount of non-fluoride toothpaste once Baby is about 2 years old. Wait until at least age 3, when your child is old enough not to swallow the toothpaste, before introducing toothpastes with fluoride.
6. Visit the dentist early
Schedule your child’s visit to the dentist as soon as your baby has those teeth coming in, around 1 year.