Babies with their toothless gums can melt anybody’s heart. But though the teeth are not visible at birth, babies are born with 20 primary teeth below the gums. There may be individual variations in the age at which they erupt. Each individual is born different and tooth eruption timeline also varies according to their genetic makeup.
Although babies are born with readymade teeth under the jaw line, there are minor discomforts when they erupt and become visible. On an average, the full set erupts by the age of 3, but here too there are variations and some children are almost 4 before their full set of teeth are visible.
There are symptoms of teething which are common among most children but again all children do not show these symptoms. Some go through this period with relatively minor discomforts, but some others may struggle a lot during the teething period.
If your baby experiences teething problems, the best thing to do would be to speak to your paediatric dentist especially when teething symptoms appear and persist beyond a few days. Many a time, even something as innocuous as a common cold may lead to something serious if left alone for long. Therefore, if you suspect that teething discomfort is persistent, make an appointment with a paediatric dentist at the earliest.
Facts about teething
All babies go through teething and it is normal for babies to experience some discomfort. Most parents have to go through a little stress during the teething period. This is normal.
Here are a few interesting facts about teething that you should know.
Diarrhoea, fever and cold
Illnesses like diarrhoea, fever and cold are not caused by teething. But they usually accompany teething because eruption of teeth causes a small tear in the gums which allows bacteria to enter into the body and making the child sick.
When your baby drools a lot during teething, it may be something more than teething. As is well-known, some drooling should be expected from teething babies, but if they drool excessively you should consult your doctor.
Variations in timing of eruptions
There is a wide range of time for the appearance of first tooth. It can happen between 4 months to 14 months. There are early teethers and there are late teethers. It is not an indication of good or bad health. It is just genetics.
Biting and chewing before teething
Before the baby cuts a tooth, he gets an itch in the jaws which are a precursor of eruption of tooth. It is part of the sequence of teething. Chewing gives a satisfaction for the itching which will eventually make way for the tooth to cut through the jaws. It is advisable to give enough chewing experience to your baby before the tooth comes through.
It is important that the baby gets safe toys to chew on. The baby will use all the mouth surfaces to chew on. This requires a few sturdy toys of the right size. They should not be too big or too small. They should not be too small that the baby may swallow it or it should not be too large that the baby cannot put it in the mouth to chew on.
Breast feeding during teething
Breast milk has inbuilt provision to alleviate some of the symptoms like pain. Breast milk has analgesic and relaxing qualities and provides immunity from day to day irritants. Babies when put to breast cannot bite the breast if properly latched.
Teething gels are not advised for babies because it has long term consequences. It may lead to serious blood condition. Teething gels are topical numbing agents which numbs the surface of gums to lessen discomfort but it unadvisable to use them for children below age 2.
Avoid fluid filled rings
Experts advise to avoid using rings that are filled with any kind of fluid because there is a risk of bursting the ring and fluid getting into mouth and sucked in. Babies’ teeth are sharper than they look and possibility is higher of cutting through them. Also refrain from freezing the food and giving it for chewing because there is a chance of the baby cutting through it and get choked on a piece of food. The better way is to cut a piece of washcloth and freeze it. This frozen washcloth makes for a great chew toy.
Rubbing the gums
During teething, the gums of the baby are sore and tender before the cutting of tooth. The baby will feel soothed if you rub his gums with a clean washed finger. You can also use a clean smooth spoon to rub gently. Moist clean gauze can also be used.
Avoid homeopathic teething tablets
Homeopathic teething tablets may contain belladonna which is not safe for children in higher amounts than mentioned on the label. It is dangerous because the effect of belladonna on children is unpredictable.
The first tooth to break may be painful for the child, which makes him cranky. It may make the mother and child uncomfortable for a short while, which will pass once tooth is cut. After the first tooth, the other teeth will follow one by one, and will complete in several months.
First the bottom two teeth appear than upper two front teeth appear. These are followed by sides and back.
Teething can be a difficult time, but just provide some extra care to the baby and follow the tips above to make it a more enjoyable experience.