AS ADULTS, SOME OF US might remember what it was like when we were kids and we had adult molars coming in. Babies and toddlers go through the same thing, except that unlike older kids, they have no way of understanding why their gums are so sore and uncomfortable. Teething can be a difficult time for parents as well, which is why we’re here to offer you some tips on helping your teething child.
1. Know the Stages of Teething
Teething doesn’t happen all at once or all the same way, it happens in stages. The first stage is eruption, when the baby teeth begin to travel from the jaw bones up through the gum tissue. Next is the cutting stage, when the teeth actually break through the gum tissue and become visible. Both stages can be painful for young children, but because they lack the words to explain this, it manifests through behaviors like acting tired, picky about what they eat, or hungry at unusual times.
2. Recognize Teething Symptoms
The first baby teeth, the lower central incisors, typically appear between six months and the baby’s first birthday (though a few months outside that in either direction shouldn’t be cause for alarm). Every child is different, but that general range should give you a good idea of when teething symptoms might begin. The most common teething symptoms include:
- Excessive drooling
- Trouble sleeping
- Rejection of previously enjoyed foods
- General irritability
- Avoidance of biting, chewing, or sucking on anything
- Biting, chewing, and sucking on everything
- Unwillingness to breastfeed
3. Recognize Symptoms NOT Associated with Teething
As important as it is to recognize teething symptoms for what they are, it’s also important to know what is not a symptom of teething, as it could indicate a different and potentially more serious health problem in the child. Diarrhea, runny nose, and fever are not commonly associated with teething and could be signs of a virus. If these symptoms persist or worsen, the child should be seen by a pediatrician.
4. Soothing a Teething Baby or Toddler
Fortunately, there is a lot we can do for our kids when they’re struggling through the teething process. Firstly, continue breastfeeding if possible. Breast milk can actually reduce the pain of teething. Next, give them teething toys to chew on. It can soothe the discomfort and help the teeth cut through the gums faster.
5. Not All Teething Toys Are Created Equal
When selecting good teething toys, make sure to avoid any that contain PVC, BPA, or phthalates. These are all chemicals that make toys last longer, but studies have shown that they can be harmful if consumed.
Apart from that, also consider if the toy is solid or gel-filled. If it’s gel-filled, is it sturdy enough that your child won’t be able to chew through it to its gooey, inedible center? Can the toy be cooled in the fridge? Does it have a handy clip to fasten to your child’s clothing? Will they be able to handle it easily?
Come to Us with Any Teething Concerns
As the experts on child dental health, we’re here to answer any questions you have and address any concerns while your child is teething. We can make sure their teeth are coming in on schedule and give you more tools and advice for making teething easier.