Teething can be a painful experience for babies (and parents), but fear not, there are remedies to help get through it. Before suffering sets-in, there are a variety of options for treating the symptoms without medications.
Teething typically starts between four and seven months. The central incisors, either the two front or bottom teeth usually come in first followed by the first molars, then the canines.
Pain relievers that you rub on the gums may offer temporary relief, but they tend to wash out of the baby’s mouth within minutes of applying. A better alternative is to occupy your little gnawer with teething “toys.” A teething toy distracts baby from the discomfort of the pain, and can be something as simple as a wet washcloth that has been left in the freezer for a few minutes. The cloth is safe and soft for them to chew on and the cold helps to numb and soothe the gums. If you don’t have a teething toy handy, your finger can be a good substitute, temporarily (as long as it is clean).
For babies 6-9 months old, introduce a slow-flow sippy cup and fill it with cold water; the coolness of the water and sucking on the top can offer some relief. Remember to clean teething toys after each use and know that it is absolutely fine to allow your baby to chew all day, especially if it is providing them relief from the pain!
First dental visit
As soon as your infant’s first tooth appears you should begin cleaning their teeth and gums on a daily basis. Simply brush them with a child’s soft toothbrush. When a baby is going through the teething process their gums tend to swell and are tender. Take care when brushing and try massaging the gums beforehand to ease your baby’s discomfort.
Just like older children and adults, babies are susceptible to tooth decay. Until they are old enough to learn, parents should take certain measures for prevention:
- Never put a child to bed with a bottle or food
- As soon children begin eating solids, gently wipe the mouth clean after each feed
- Teach children to drink from a regular cup around the 12 -15 month mark
- If a child insists on a bottle or sippy cup for a long period of the day, fill it with water only
- Avoid feeding a child foods high in starch or sugar
Remember teething is part of the growing process. Providing simple relief during teething will give babies (and parents) the comfort needed to get through. When teeth begin coming in, implementing the best oral care early on enforces routine, and teaches children good habits for maintaining a healthy smile.