Teething is a significant milestone in your child’s development. Unfortunately, it can also mean sleepless nights for you and your baby. Thus, it is important for you to recognise the steps you can take to help your child go through this phase as comfortably as possible.
What Should You Know?
Teething occurs within a child’s first year
Teething is the process in which your child’s teeth start to penetrate their gums. It usually occurs between 4 to 7 months.
The first teeth to appear are the central incisors1. Within weeks, the central and lateral incisors, and the lower lateral incisors, will erupt through their gums1. The back teeth will start to develop after a year. By 3 years of age, your child will have a complete set of milk teeth1.
Recognise the early symptoms of teething
Drooling, increased spitting and a tendency to gnaw on hard objects are the first signs of teething2. Other teething symptoms include prolonged crying, sleepless nights and disrupted eating patterns1. Some children may experience swollen gums, or slightly higher-than-usual body temperature1. If your child experiences a fever during the teething phase, seek medical advice immediately1,3.
Use cold therapy to relieve swollen gums
Relieve swelling by applying a chilled spoon or teething ring to your child’s gums3. Avoid liquid-filled teething toys as they can leak1. Only give your child teething biscuits if he/she has started consuming solid foods. However, do not leave your child unattended as they can choke on smaller pieces1.
Avoid homeopathic teething tablets and devices
Avoid teething tablets that contain belladonna (a plant poison) and benzocaine as they can cause harmful side effects to your child4. Also, avoid amber teething necklaces as they can be choking hazards, and can strangle your child5.
Use fluoride-based modalities to strengthen your child’s teeth
Fluoride prevents the process of demineralisation, which in turn prevents tooth decay. It is found in toothpaste, tap water and selected supplements6. Brush your child’s teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. Always help your child to brush their teeth as there’s a chance that they might swallow the toothpaste, which can be harmful, especially in large doses6.
Alternatively, give your child a few ounces of fluoridated tap water at six months, or paeditrician-approved fluoride supplements daily to maximize benefits6.
See a paediatric dental specialist when teething starts
Seek paediatric dental care when teething starts, or after 12 months, to ensure normal teeth development7. If you treat teeth decay immediately, it will promote the growth of adult teeth. If something seems amiss, consult an expert to determine if your child is suffering an underlying condition that is unrelated to teething.
1 Teething Tots (2018). Retrieved Aug 4, 2020 from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/teething.html
2 Baby teething symptoms (n.d.). Retrieved Aug 4, 2020 from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/teething-and-tooth-care
3 Teething:Tips for soothing sore gums (n.d). Retrieved Aug 4, 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/teething/art-20046378
4 FDA warns consumers about homeopathic teething products (n.d). Retrieved Aug 4, 2020 from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/information-drug-class/fda-warns-consumers-about-homeopathic-teething-products
5 Teething Necklaces and Beads: A Caution for Parents (n.d). Retrieved Aug 4, 2020 from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/teething-tooth-care/Pages/Amber-Teething-Necklaces.aspx
6 Fluoride and Water (n.d). Retrieved Nov 26, 2020 from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/fluoride-water.html
7 Your Child’s First Dental Visit (n.d). Retrieved Nov 26, 2020 from https://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Publications/Files/ADA_PatientSmart_First_Dental_Visit