All parents dread teething but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Here’s how to spot it and some tips on how to ease your little one’s sore gums, writes Emma Deane.
Distressed baby, sleepless nights, constant crying…the torture myths are out there but teething isn’t always such a nightmare.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that there is a genetic pattern to teething.
In other words, if you and your partner had it relatively easy during your babyhood, chances have it that Junior will be the same.
And anyway, regardless of the sleepless nights (and you are bound to have a few), that very first sighting of your baby’s very first pearly white is incredibly exciting.
After all, the arrival of your baby’s first teeth is one of her very first developmental milestones.
To help you and your baby weather this confusing and uncomfortable transition, we’ve answered some of your most common teething questions.
So, when will it happen?
Your baby may get her first tooth any time from around three months old to a year.
Most babies’ first tooth will generally appear at around 5 or months old.
First teeth are called milk teeth and the two bottom ones, which are right at the front, are normally the first ones to appear.
By the time she is two and a half, she should have a full set of 20 baby teeth.
What are the signs?
When your baby starts teething, you will notice that she is dribbling or drooling more.
Her gums might be swollen and tender and she might also be biting down on your fingers or gnawing at her cheeks.
Other signs to look out for include going off her food, pulling at her ears and red, flushed cheeks.
Your baby’s body is producing more saliva because of the irritation of teething, and she hasn’t got the hang of swallowing that often. Looks apart, excessive moisture on the skin can cause facial rashes and chapping. Some parents apply a mild emollient, such as Vaseline, to create a protective moisture barrier.
Cold washcloths, teething rings, hard biscuits – what’s best?
Most dentists will recommend teething rings, particularly the water-filled kind that can be chilled to soothe aching gums.
Food-based teethers should be avoided if at all possible, because they can leave food residue causing tooth decay and can sometimes be a choking hazard.
You should brush your baby’s teeth twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening.
Tiny, soft bristled toothbrushes are available from most pharmacies.
Make sure you use a pea-sized amount of specially formulated children’s toothpaste, as the fluoride content of adult toothpaste is unsuitable for babies and children.
What about the serious side effects?
There are a lot of untrue myths and many misconceptions surrounding teething.
It will cause your baby discomfort and if he is really miserable and not sleeping properly, he may be more prone to infections.
However, fever, sickness and diarrhoea are not effects or signs of teething.
If your baby is suffering from these symptoms and you are worried about her health, you should not see your GP immediately.
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