Some tips for parents when their child is teething

Teething is a generally unpleasant experience for both the parent and child. While it may not make the process any less painful, having a better understanding of the teething process can be useful in preparation. A child generally has 20 teeth at birth. Fortunately for nursing mothers, these teeth are located under the gums, giving them the name “milk teeth”. During this stage the painful effects of teething are not experienced, it is not until the first teeth begin to erupt that these symptoms begin to show. In most children, the first teeth to erupt will be the front teeth, both the top and bottom. These are known as the incisors. It is during this time that children will begin to feel the painful effects of teething. While your child may start to feel uncomfortable beforehand, in most situations these teeth will all come in between six and ten months. Before the tooth breaks through, it can often be felt as a bump beneath the surface of the gums. As their teeth erupt, some babies are inclined to get sore gums which can make them irritable and fussy, they may even lose their appetite or drool more than usual. This is the time a teething ring may be helpful to relieve the pain. Distraction is a great tool. Especially during the day, your baby might need a bit more distraction than usual while teething. Playing alone might not work at all. Consider doing things that your baby really loves.

At around ten months, the primary molars will make their appearance. These teeth are situated near the back of the mouth on both the upper and lower jaw. This stage is similar to that of the incisors, but with more drool and crankiness. Be prepared to lose some sleeping during this stage. If the pain seems to be out of control, you may have to speak to your pediatrician on the steps that can be taken to ease the discomfort. Diarrhea, rashes and fever are not normal for a teething baby and a call to your pediatrician is recommended. Gently rubbing your baby’s gums with a clean finger, a small cool spoon, or moist gauze can be soothing as well as a clean teething ring. It is important to remember using over the counter topical lidocaine or benzocaine products for children younger than 2 years of age should not be used unless recommended by their doctor as they can be harmful.

Your child’s canine teeth will begin to erupt sometime between their first and second birthday. Like in the previous stages, your child has no way to verbalize their discomfort, leading to crying and screaming. Make sure you employ the same methods of comfort as with the previous stages.

The final stage of teething comes somewhere between two and three years of age. These teeth are bigger than previous molars. Many parents soon discover that the old comfort methods do not work with this type of teething. Now that your child is older, try giving them a hard vegetable they can chew on. Even better, place the vegetable in the freezer beforehand, bringing additional comfort. Be sure to monitor your child while they have hold of these foods.

Teething is a stressful time, but you can make it through! Be sure to give your child the tools they need to get through the teething process with as little pain as possible.