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The Ultimate Guide to Baby Teething
Seeing those first teeth break through your child's gums is a big milestone for both you and your child, but it can also be a difficult period of time.
Teething will make your baby irritable and fussy, which will result in many sleepless nights for the entire family.
As a new parent, you may feel helpless.
You know that your baby is in pain, but you don't know how to help them.
In this guide, we will talk about what you should expect during this difficult time, ways to soothe your baby, and how to take care of their new teeth once they erupt from the gums.
When Does Teething Begin?
Teething is not exactly the same for every child, but you should expect to see your child's first tooth at some point between four and nine months old. Odd as it may seem, girls tend to get their teeth more quickly than boys.
For some children, teething begins later than this, and some babies can even be born with teeth in their mouths. If you are concerned that your child's teeth are not visible yet, consult with your pediatrician.
Which Teeth Should I Expect First?
When your baby's teeth start to appear, you will notice that there is a pattern to which teeth erupt through the gums.
The first teeth that you should expect to see are the bottom middle incisors. They tend to arrive at the same time, so you can get a cute photo of your baby with just those two teeth.
These teeth will appear at some point between four and seven months, but the exact timing will differ with each child.
The next teeth that you should see are the front two incisors at the top of their mouth.
The next pair of teeth that you should see is the second teeth on the top, next to the center.
Then, the second set on the bottom will appear when your child is about nine to 16 months old. Before your child is 19 months old, you should see their first molars peeking through the gums.
Before they are two years old, their canines on the top and bottom of their mouth should appear.
The second molars will appear at some point when they are two years of age.
By the time your baby is three, they should have a mouth full of teeth that include all 20 of their baby teeth.
Your baby's teeth will be smaller than yours so that they can easily fit into their small growing mouths.
Their jaw will actually grow a bit to accommodate their permanent teeth when the time comes.
Signs and Symptoms of Teething
One of the first things that you will notice when your baby begins teething is that they will start drooling a lot.
They will most likely put a lot of things in their mouths to help ease the pain.
In fact, many babies will even attempt to put their hands in their mouth. This will most likely begin around three months.
When your baby puts their fingers in his or her mouth, they will most likely try to rub their gums so that the pain stops. They may also want to be fed more frequently, so if you are nursing your baby, be prepared to help them ease the pain by becoming a pacifier during the night.
If your baby is eating, they may not want to have anything in their mouth that is solid. Chilling the food may help to soothe their gums, but some babies who are teething may prefer a liquid diet for a few days.
Teething will also cause your baby to wake up in pain. Teething can end up keeping your little one awake at night, which will make them cranky and irritable during the day.
You may also notice that your baby's face is getting a rash. This is because their skin is still sensitive, and the drool can irritate their lips and chin.
Your baby may also experience a higher temperature than normal. It will not be very high, but it can make them feel uncomfortable, especially since they are already in pain from the teething.
Ways to Soothe the Pain
Cold compresses are always great for getting rid of the pain. Your baby's gums are most likely swollen and painful when the teeth are pushing their way through, so giving them something that is cold to chew on can help soothe the pain greatly.
It can help to numb the area as well as reduce the swelling. A cold teething ring or some chilled fruit in a mesh teething feeder can work great for soothing their gums, but if their teeth are already through the surface of their gums, then warmth in their mouth may help more than cold.
Heat is best for healing the gums that have been broken. It will soothe your little one and help them relax. A warm cloth is usually enough to soothe a child, but make sure that it is not too hot because your baby will be chewing on it.
If you have clean hands, you can use your fingers to massage your baby's gums as well. This is not recommended for babies who already have teeth in their mouth, but it can really soothe the pain in a specific area of their mouth.
Even if your baby has no teeth in their mouth, you can expect them to bite down on your fingers once or twice. Just be careful, and if they have teeth, try to keep your fingers away from them. You can rub their gums with a toothbrush or a soft cloth as well.
Another great option is to give your child one of the great teething toys that are available. Some of these items have different textures around the exterior so that they provide a different amount of pressure to their sore gums.
Giving them these toys that are designed for teething specifically ensure that they are not putting unsafe items in their mouths that could cause them to choke.
They are also easy to clean, which means that you can wash them each night so that your baby has something clean to sooth their gums the next day.
If you are looking to soothe your child, there are also amber teething necklaces that you can use. These are not designed to be chewed but rather worn as a soothing mechanism because when amber touches the skin, it can help relieve pain.
Should I use Medication to Soothe My Baby?
If soothing your baby's gums is not working, then you may want to help them with some sort of medication.
Numbing gels are a great idea, especially since they can easily be rubbed on the irritated area.
Most topical medications can be purchased right over the counter; however, if you have never dealt with a teething tot before, then you may want to ask their pediatrician which gel will work the best for your child.
Many doctors advise that an ointment with benzocaine in the ingredients should not be used on children under two years old.
If you use topical medication, only use a small amount so that the medication stays on your child's gums.
Since they have a lot of excess saliva during teething, it can easily wash the medication to their throat and cause them to have issues swallowing, so use these medications with caution.
Painkillers are another option that many parents use to ease their child's teething pains, but this should be used as a last resort. Do not give your baby any painkillers without checking with their doctor.
They can be too strong for a youngster, and that can cause more harm than good.
Tylenol is often the go-to medication for small children.
If your child is over six months, the doctor may recommend ibuprofen to help reduce the inflammation in the gums, but make sure to be cautious with this as well because it can irritate the stomach and cause your little one to be even crankier.
Never give your baby Aspirin because it can cause Reye's syndrome.
Taking Care of a Teething Baby
When your baby is teething, your job is to give your little one comfort.
Kiss them more, hold them a lot, sing songs to them, cuddle them with their favorite blanky as you watch their favorite show, give them as much skin to skin contact as possible.
Even if they are still in pain, comforting them is a great way to distract them. If your child can focus on something that they enjoy, they may be able to forget about the pain of teething; if only for a few minutes.
Try playing a game with them, reading to them, or even taking them outside.
Going to the park on a nice day will give them a lot of distraction and taking them for a walk in a stroller can be a great way to help them get some sleep.
Brushing Their New Teeth
As soon as your baby's teeth erupt through their gums, you need to begin brushing them.
They will look extra white when they first come out of the gums, so work to keep them that way. Many kids have cavities by the time their permanent teeth come in, but starting a good brushing routine at a young age can help prevent this.
You can actually go without using toothpaste at first, but when you start using toothpaste, a pea-sized amount like you should be using is way too much for a baby.
You don't want them to swallow the toothpaste, so this is why you should actually start without toothpaste; at least until they are able to spit the toothpaste out.
When they are ready, smear a small amount of toothpaste on their toothbrush. It should only be about the size of a grain of rice.
Start off brushing their teeth twice a day to help them form good dental habits. Use a small toothbrush that is designed for babies so that the bristles are soft.
Once they have all of their baby teeth, you can teach them to brush for a full two minutes, and show them how to floss.
Flossing can actually begin when your baby has two teeth in their mouth that are side by side; just be careful of their tender gums.
Make sure to always rinse their mouth out after their teeth have been brushed.
Teething is a trying time, especially for parents who have never experienced it before with another child.
Follow these tips to help you prepare:
- Comfort your baby as much as possible.
- Teeth tend to appear in sets of two.
- Teething toys can be great for soothing the gums.
- Chilled fruits are also good to soothe their gums.
- Only use medications as a last resort.
- Once you can see teeth, you need to start brushing them.