The appearance of your baby’s first tooth is an important milestone in their development, and we are likely to see you sharing photos with family, friends, and anyone else who might pass by! Unfortunately, however, arrival does not always go smoothly: it can be a trying time for both you and your baby, as there will inevitably be some discomfort, leading to more sleepless nights and a bad temper.
There are usually a few warning signs that a tooth is on its way, and these can include increased salivation or drool, and intensified tendency for your baby to chew on toys (or even people!), flushed cheeks and swollen gums, and general malaise showed by loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, and irritability.
Many parents will tell you that teething is often accompanied by other problems, such as an upset stomach or colds, although most medical experts say there is no real connection and that young children are more or less constantly struggling with a mistake or another, and so any signs of disease that appear along with teething are probably just coincidences.
Teething usually begins around 6 months, although, as with everything related to babies and children, your own experience may vary. In fact, very few babies will be born with one or two teeth, while some will not see their first tooth emerge until their first birthday or even later. Your baby will normally have a full set of teeth by his third birthday, and these baby teeth will last until around six when they will begin to be replaced by adult teeth.
While some babies navigate the entire teething process with little difficulty, for others it can be a truly traumatic experience. Unfortunately, there is nothing that we as parents can do to accelerate growth, but there are ways to ease the discomfort a bit.
The most traditional remedy for teething pain is a rubber-biting ring, which works with your baby’s natural inclination to chew on things. A soft rubber ring provides a safe outlet for this impulse and keeping the ring in the refrigerator when not in use will also provide a fresh feeling for the baby, when in use.
The teething gel can also be applied to the gums, which can provide comfort, and can be smeared on a mannequin or pacifier if the biting reflex means that direct application to the gums is risky for parents.
Teething powders, which consist of a sachet of crystals that can be poured into your baby’s mouth, are also available and appear to be more effective than gels with some children.
Finally, you may need to turn to pain relief medication if the problem is severe. Be sure to use medication specifically formulated for babies your child’s age and adhere to the recommended dosage. Medications that also induce drowsiness, such as fever preparations, can also be very helpful, especially at bedtime.
Hopefully, your baby doesn’t have too much trouble developing a healthy smile, but if you find teething a problem, remember that it won’t last forever, and keep counting teeth as they arrive!