Your baby’s first tooth is a big deal in their development, and one that will likely see you sharing photographs with family, friends, and anyone else who may happen by! Unfortunately, the arrival doesn’t always go as smoothly as you would like – it can be a testing time for both you and your baby, as there will inevitably be some discomfort involved, leading to even more sleepless nights and grizzled behavior.
There are normally some kind of warning signs that a tooth is on its way, and these can include an increase in salivation or drool, and intensified tendency for your baby to bite down on toys or people, flushed cheeks and swollen gums, and a general malaise shown through loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, and irritability.
Many parents will tell you that teething is often followed by other problems such as upset stomachs or colds, although most medical experts say that there is no real connection and that young, children are more or less continually fighting off one bug or another. Any signs of illness appearing together with teething are probably just coincidences.
Teething will normally start around six months, although as with all things related to babies and kids your own experience may vary. Very few babies will be born with a tooth or two, while some may not see their first tooth emerge until their first birthday or even later. Whenever it starts, your baby will normally have a complete set of teeth by their third birthday, and these milk teeth will last until around the age of six or so when they will begin to be replaced by adult teeth.
Although some infants sail through the whole teething process with little difficulty, for others it can be a really big deal. Unfortunately, there’s nothing parents can do to speed the growth, but there are ways to relieve the discomfort a little.
The most traditional remedy for the teething pain is a rubber biting ring, which works with your baby’s natural inclination to bite down on things. A soft rubber ring provides a safe outlet for this urge and keeping the ring in the refrigerator when not in use will also provide a cooling sensation.
The teething gel can also be applied to the gums, which can provide comfort, and can be smeared onto a dummy or pacifier if the biting reflex means direct application to the gums is risky for the parent!
You could also try teething powders, which consists of a sachet of crystals which you can pour into your baby’s mouth, and seem to prove more effective than gels with some children.
You may find yourself resorting to pain relief medication if the problem is severe. Be certain to use a medicine specifically formulated for babies of your child’s age, and stick to the recommended dosage. Medicine which also induces drowsiness can also be very useful – especially around bedtime.
Hopefully, your own baby won’t have too much difficulty developing a healthy toothy smile, but if you’re finding teething to be a problem, then just remember that it doesn’t last forever, and keep on counting the teeth as they arrive!