Baby Teething and Tooth Care
Teething is one of your baby’s developmental milestones, and sometimes this journey can be tough for both parents and babies. It helps to know what to expect when your child is teething and how to make the process a little less painful.
For some babies, teething can be a painless process, but for others, it can be a very uncomfortable condition, causing distress to both you and your baby. There is no set date when your baby’s first tooth will arrive. Babies usually start teething around 6 months of age; however, some babies start teething at any time between 3 months and 12 months of age. Some babies can even be born with teeth!
As the roots of your baby’s teeth grow, they push the edges of the teeth through their gums. In most cases, your baby will experience the most discomfort with their first teeth, as the sensation is new, and then later with their molars because of their size. If your baby is teething, you may notice some of the following signs:
- They are crying and are more irritable;
- Their gums are swollen, tender and red;
- One or both of their cheeks are flushed;
- Your baby is dribbling a lot. You may also notice that your baby has developed a rash around their chin and mouth as a result of their drool;
- They have an urge to bite to try and ease their pain. You may notice that they have started chewing on their fingers and anything else they can get a hold of.
- You notice your baby rubbing their ear on the same side as an erupting tooth;
- They are not sleeping well at night and they are wakeful during the day;
- Your baby is not feeding as well as they normally would;
- Your baby may also develop a high temperature (fever) or diarrhoea just before a tooth breaks through. However these symptoms could also be a result of another condition or infection; thus it is always best to consult your child’s Doctor if you notice that your baby has diarrhoea and/or a fever with any of the above symptoms.
There are several things that you can try to help ease your baby’s teething pain. Some things may work better than others, however, most parents would agree that they’re always worth a try. Below are some tips to help your baby feel better while teething.
- Applying light pressure on their gums. Rub your finger across your baby’s sore gums to numb their pain temporarily.
- Give them something cool to suck or chew on. Refrigerate a teething ring, such as Tommee Tippee Coolfish Teether, and give it to your baby to suck on. If your baby is old enough, you could give them some fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables to chew on. Yoghurt and fruit puree straight from the fridge can also be soothing.
- Wipe away drool. Wipe your baby’s face often with a soft cloth to remove their drool and prevent a rash from developing. If you notice that your baby is constantly drooling, apply a protective barrier cream, such as Sudocrem, around the affected area.
- For infants above 4 months, apply a teething gel. Use a clean finger and massage a small amount of teething gel onto your baby’s gums to provide fast-acting and targeted relief. Look for gels that are sugar-free and colour-free, such as Bonjela Teething Gel, and make sure you follow the correct dosage instructions for the product you have selected. Keep in mind that some teething gels can contain small amounts of anaesthetics, thus you should avoid using them before feeding, as the numbness could prevent your baby from sucking properly and may also numb your breast if you are breast feeding as well.
- You baby may require some pain relieving medication to help ease their pain. Occasionally your baby may require paracetamol (e.g. Advantage Infant’s Paracetamol Colour Free Drops) or ibuprofen (e.g. Nurofen for Children - 3 Months +) to help control their pain. Check the dosage information on the pack or ask your Advantage Pharmacist if you are unsure on how much to give your baby.
Teeth are some of your children’s most important possessions. How you look after their teeth from the time they are babies will make a difference to how they grow and how healthy they are.
Start cleaning your baby’s teeth early. At first, you can use a clean, damp washcloth or gauze, or brush them gently with a soft, infant-sized toothbrush and water. Once your baby is old enough, usually above the age of 1 or 2 years, your child can use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste (such as My First Colgate Toothpaste) and be taught to spit it out after brushing. Do not let your child swallow the toothpaste or eat it out of the tube because an overdose in fluoride can be harmful to kids.
Baby bottle decay is caused by frequent exposure, over time, to liquids containing sugars, such as milk, formula and fruit juices. Below are some simple steps to help prevent tooth decay in your infant.
- Breast milk is best for your baby.
- The best drinks for your baby are breast milk, formula or water.
- Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle containing anything other than water.
- As soon as your baby’s teeth appear, brush them with a child-sized, soft toothbrush.
- Ensure all family members have good oral health.
- If using a dummy, do not add flavouring. Never clean a dummy in your mouth, as this will transfer bacteria from your mouth to your baby.
- Try introducing a cup from about six months of age and try to stop bottle use from about 12 months of age.