Trust us when we say the days of drooling, crankiness and teething tears will soon be a forgotten memory. Before you know it, your kids will by reaching for their first dentist-recommended electric toothbrushand handling their oral hygiene all by themselves.
Nevertheless, when dealing with a cranky teething baby, those days and nights really do seem to last forever!
The good news being that not only is the whole thing over pretty quickly, but there are various ways and means to lessen the ordeal for all involved. That’s why today, we thought we’d share a few tips and insights on the very earliest days of good oral health and hygiene.
Just to stress one important point right away – ‘normal’ can be a dangerous word. When it comes to the healthy development of babies, timings vary enormously from one baby to the next. In most instances, the very first teeth (usually the two bottom front teeth) begin to appear at around six months of age. Nevertheless, teeth that appear slightly earlier or later than this do not necessarily constitute a problem.
As always, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor or dentist, if you have any concerns.
You can count on your baby to let you know exactly when and where they begin teething. Common symptoms including:
- The desire to chew just about anything in sight
- Crankiness or irritability with no obvious explanation
- Excessive drooling
- Soreness and irritation in the mouth
- In some instances a low-grade fever of 99 F (37.2 C)
Once again, all such signs and symptoms do not necessarily confirm teething or otherwise. As such, it’s always a good idea to bring any unusual symptoms to the attention of your doctor, if you’re at all concerned.
Soothing sore gums
When you think about the mechanics of teething, it’s actually enough to make anyone squeamish. The process of teeth emerging through the gums for the very first time can cause the kind of pain and discomfort that’s bound to upset your baby. There’s not a great deal you can do to speed things up or eliminate the discomfort, but there’s plenty you can do to effectively soothe those sore gums.
A few firm favourites among doctors and parents include the following:
- You could simply try gently rubbing your baby’s gums with a moistened gauze pad or a clean finger. The gentle massaging action itself can often be effective at relieving some discomfort:
- Anything you give your baby to chew on that’s nice and cold can provide instant and effective relief from the pain and discomfort of teething. Examples of which include a chilled teething ring, a cold wash cloth and so on.
- While avoiding anything that could constitute a choking hazard, many doctors recommend providing teething babies with something hard and cold to chew on. Assuming they are already eating solid foods, you could try with something like a chilled carrot or cucumber. Just be sure to keep a close eye on them at all times.
- Don’t forget that it isn’t just the emerging teeth themselves that stand to cause your baby discomfort. All that drool they produce can and will get all over the place, ultimately irritating their skin in the process. Once again therefore, it’s a case of keeping a close eye on your baby, removing as much excess drool from their skin as possible and using an approved moisturiser to look after their skin.
- It’s also worth remembering that there are plenty of over-the-counter remedies that are specifically designed to bring relief to teething babies. That said, not all remedies are suitable for all babies – speak to your pharmacist or doctor before deciding which to try it with your baby.
One important note – don’t make the mistake of using any non-baby-specific products in an attempt to soothe your baby’s discomfort. Common mistakes include applying small amounts of mouthwash, using adult painkillers and applying other topical treatments. If the product hasn’t been designed specifically with infants in mind, it shouldn’t be going anywhere near your baby.
Cold foods and drinks to soothe irritated gums
Referring back to one of the previous points, simply reaching for chilled foods and drinks can make a big difference for teething babies. Once again, it’s important to be both mindful and cautious, while at the same time keeping a close eye on your baby at all times.
Nevertheless, the following have proved particularly popular and effective over the years:
- Cold carrot – safe, natural and packed with nutrients every baby could benefit from
- Frozen waffles – particularly easy for babies to get a firm grip of and chew on
- Called cucumber slices – natural anti-inflammatory properties and moisture
- Cold celery – relief from the chilled temperature and the pressure while biting
- Cold drinks – simply providing your baby with iced water can help
The list goes on, but essentially incorporates anything you can provide your baby at a cold temperature. Just be sure not to get carried away with anything too cold that could potentially irritate your baby’s gums further. Just as it’s inadvisable for adults to apply ice directly to the skin or gums for prolonged periods of time, the same of course applies to your baby.
Do I need to call the doctor?
For parents, knowing if and when to call the doctor can be the ultimate conundrum. No parent wants to go running to the doctor’s surgery at the drop of a hat, but at the same time there’s no allowance for taking unnecessary risks. Not only this, but as every baby develops at an entirely different rate, it’s often impossible to know what’s normal and what’s a cause for concern.
It’s no different when it comes to teething – what’s normal for one baby could be completely different for the next baby. As such, the rule of thumb is relatively simple – contact a professional immediately, should you suspect anything isn’t quite right. Even if it’s something relatively minor, it’s better to be safe than sorry.