11 Apr Teething Tots
Teething, the emergence of the first teeth through a baby’s gums, can be tough on parents, caregivers and babies alike. But knowing what to expect can make the teething process a little easier to manage.
The teething process can begin anytime from when you child is 3 months up to a year old. Most children’s first teeth emerges between 4 and 7 months. The first teeth to appear usually are the two bottom front teeth, also known as the central incisors. They’re usually followed 4 to 8 weeks later by the four front upper teeth (central and lateral incisors). Most kids have all 20 of their primary teeth by their 3rd birthday. If your child’s teeth come in much slower than this, discuss with your pediatric dentist.
As kids begin teething, they might drool more and want to chew on things. For some babies, teething is painless. Others may have brief periods of irritability, while some may seem cranky for weeks, with crying spells and disrupted sleeping and eating patterns. Although teething can cause your baby’s temperature to be higher than normal, it should not cause a high fever of diarrhea.
Here are some tips for Easing Teething:
- Wipe your baby’s face often with a cloth to remove the drool and prevent rashes from developing.
- Rub your baby’s gums with a clean finger.
- Give your baby something to chew on. Make sure it’s big enough that it can’t be swallowed or choked on and that it can’t break into small pieces. A wet washcloth placed in the freezer for 30 minutes makes a handy teething aid. Be sure to take it out of the freezer before it becomes rock hard — you don’t want to bruise those already swollen gums — and be sure to wash it after each use.
- Rubber teething rings are also good, but avoid ones with liquid inside because they may break or leak. If you use a teething ring, chill it in the refrigerator, but NOT the freezer. Also, never boil to sterilize it — extreme changes in temperature could cause the plastic to get damaged and leak chemicals.
- Never tie a teething ring around a baby’s neck or any other body part — it could get caught on something and strangle the baby.
- If your baby seems irritable, ask your doctor if it is OK to give a dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen (for babies older than 6 months) to ease discomfort. Never place an aspirin against the tooth, and don’t rub alcohol on your baby’s gums.
- Teething biscuits and frozen or cold food are only OK for kids who are already eating solid foods. Don’t use them if your child has not yet started solids. And make sure to watch your baby to make sure that no pieces break off or pose a choking hazard.
- Avoid teething gels and tablets because they may not be safe for babies.
Baby Teeth Hygiene
Daily dental care should begin even before your baby’s first tooth emerges. Wipe your baby’s gums daily with a clean, damp washcloth or gauze, or brush them gently with a soft, infant-sized toothbrush and water (no toothpaste!).
As soon as the first tooth appears, brush it with water and fluoridated toothpaste, using only a small amount.
Your child can use a little more toothpaste once he or she is old enough to spit it out — usually around age 3. Choose one with fluoride and use only a pea-sized amount or less in younger kids. Don’t let your child swallow the toothpaste or eat it out of the tube because an overdose of fluoride can be harmful to kids.
By the time all your baby’s teeth are in, try to brush them at least twice a day and especially after meals. It’s also important to get kids used to flossing early on. A good time to start flossing is when two teeth start to touch. You also can get toddlers interested in the routine by letting them watch and imitate you as you brush and floss.
Another important tip for preventing tooth decay: Don’t let your baby fall asleep with a bottle. The milk or juice can pool in a baby’s mouth and cause tooth decay and plaque.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that kids see a dentist by age 1, or within 6 months after the first tooth appears, to spot any potential problems and advise parents about preventive care.
Article information courtesy of kidshealth.org.