Everything You Need To Know About Your Baby's Teething
The teething process can be a difficult period for both
the baby and the parents. The process starts at different
ages depending on each baby but usually by age of 3 most
infants have their primary teeth in place. If by one year
your baby still has not got his first tooth it would be
wise to see your doctor and dentist.
There are 20 primary or "baby" teeth that every child has
during their lifetime, with ten in the upper jaw and ten
in the lower. Usually, the appearance of baby teeth is as
follows: the upper and lower incisors come
first, then the upper lateral incisors come in a few
months later, followed shortly thereafter with the bottom
lateral incisors. The top and bottom molars are the next
set to come through, usually right around 18 months. The
cuspids, or eyeteeth, usually follow soon after the
molars. At approximately two, to two and a half years, the
second set of molars will appear.
Usually there is no set order in which baby teeth appear -
again this depends on the individual baby. It is unusual
for a child not to get all twenty teeth.
Some babies can be born with a front tooth (this happens
in about 1 in every 2000 cases). In this even it is wise
to consult a pediatric dentist. This situation can affect
the breastfeeding process so a pediatric dentist should be
consulted as soon as possible, especially if you intend to
Here are the signs that your baby may be teething:
. Bulging gums - you'll be able to see the outline of the
teeth as they try and push through his gums.
. Nighttime crying and walking.
. More fuss than normal.
. "Clingy behavior.
. An increase in the amount of drooling seen.
. Chewing on fingers, teething rings, and other objects.
. Swollen, red, inflamed gums.
. Poor appetite.
. Interrupted sleep.
There is some debate about this, but it is now generally
accepted that teething will not cause fever, sleep issues
or lower immunity to infection.
Teething is very painful - if you have ever bitten the
inside of your cheek you know how painful this can be -
now imagine a baby that is used to a soft smooth surface
(gums) and suddenly she has a hard and sharp tooth pushing
through her swollen gums. Generally it's the first tooth
that will cause the most discomfort.
When babies are going through the teething process they
sometimes bring their hands to their mouths - this brings
some relief when the gums have pressure applied to them.
You can gently massage your baby to reduce the discomfort
of teething - clean your fingers and rub the gums firmly -
this may be uncomfortable for your baby initially but she
will get used to, and
appreciate, the massage the more you do it.
Give your baby something cool to chew on - this again
provides relief for a little time. Wet washcloths (you can
soak this in apple juice if you wish) that have been left
in the freezer for 30 minutes or so - can be given to your
baby to chew. Just remember, whatever you use make sure
that your baby cannot choke on it. Other things that your
baby can chew on include a
chilled banana or an iced Popsicle. An old wives tale
remedy recommends that you dab some alcohol on your baby's
gums - it is strongly recommended that
you do NOT do this.
While primary teeth will at one stage be replaced by the
permanent teeth, they are very important for several
reasons - including chewing and speech.
Once these teeth are in, you can clean them with a special
Be sure to never allow your baby to fall asleep with a
bottle. This will lead to tooth decay. Whether a baby is
bottle fed or nursed, he will be vulnerable to "baby
bottle tooth decay". Such decay occurs when freshly
sprouted baby teeth are exposed to liquids containing
sugars (basically, anything other than water) for long
periods of time. Bacteria in the mouth will grow in the
sugar, which attack the tooth enamel and cause cavities.
The best treatment for "baby bottle tooth decay" is
prevention. Don't let your baby use a bottle as a pacifier
or fall asleep with a bottle containing
anything but water. Also, be sure to gently clean his
teeth and gums after each feeding.
You may also see some teething symptoms - on the whole
these are fairly harmless. For example, drool rash where a
red rash can be seen on the face,
lips, chin and chest. This can be washed with warm water
and a cloth and your doctor may prescribe a lanolin
ointment as treatment for this. Sometimes other symptoms
can include mild diarrhea and a cough caused by excess
saliva dripping down the baby's throat.
Here are some good tips to use to care for your baby's
. Clean your baby's mouth before the teething process. You
can wipe the gums after each feeding with a warm, wet
. Take good care of the teeth once they start to come in.
Some parents wrongly believe that because primary teeth
are eventually replaced they are not that important - this
is false as they preserve the space for the permanent
teeth, not to mention help with chewing and talking.
. Actively watch for cavities - if you spot any
discoloration or pitting then they could be signs of
cavities. Try and avoid putting your baby to sleep with
milk (or even worse sweet juice) as it could lead to
cavities. In addition follow up meals with water as this
helps to wash off most infant foods quite easily.
. Introduce a toothbrush as soon as possible. In addition
you should monitor your baby's fluoride intake as this can
help prevent tooth decay. It's also important to schedule
a dental check up for your baby - shortly after the first
year is a good time for the first visit.
Creating good dental practice from the start will help
ensure that you baby continues good dental hygiene for
years into the future.
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