Nightmare teething advice part 2 is just what the doctor ordered. Our alternate title could be “What New Parents (and new clients) need to know about coping with a baby’s first teeth.”
Nightmare Teething Advice: Avoiding a Family Crisis
As we pointed out last time, baby teeth are the cause of many sleepless nights. However, at Dentistry for Children, we believe that your understanding of the importance of these milk teeth should reduce the number of nightmarish or sleepless nights you have to face.
Also, most of us know that many of our fears come from the fact we simply do not understand what is happening when our baby cries from the pain of erupting teeth. Simply, it is the fear of the “unknown.” When our baby cries, we only know he or she is in pain. We usually don’t know why.
Additionally, Dentistry for Children is directing much of this information toward young or inexperienced parents of our newer patients and clients. Your understanding should relieve many of your teething fears and contribute to a happier baby.
Nightmare Teething Advice in Review
To begin, let’s review and highlight the main points we covered in our previous blog:
- Baby Teeth are temporary but vital. Firstly, they help your child learn critical Life Skills including Speaking and Chewing.
- And most importantly, they create the proper path for your child’s permanent teeth.
Last week we began our discussion of proper care of the baby’s teeth. We established our mission to critical mission to protect them in order to ensure strong, healthy permanent teeth. We began our anatomy discussion on the differences between Deciduous (milk teeth) and permanent ones.
Anatomy Lesson Differences: Permanent Teeth Vs Milk Teeth
Our anatomy lesson began with the first difference between permanent teeth and milk teeth: Composition.
In summary, we stated that “Baby teeth have very thin enamel and require frequent visits and care by your pediatric dentist.” We recommend you read the previous blog to more fully understand this discussion.
Additional Differences Between Milk Teeth vs Permanent Teeth
2. The Second Milk Tooth Difference: Structure
- The shapes of baby teeth are different from those of the permanent set. You’ve seen this in the roots of baby teeth. They are thin and short, far different from the elongated, branched, appearance of permanent teeth. Naturally, common sense leads us to believe that there is a reason behind the short stubby roots. Johnny Sr. knew it in our second introductory story (Part 1)!
Within this frail structure resides the secret that helps the roots dissolve and pop out. Do not forget that the magic in the shedding plan is they leave perfect space for the permanent tooth to fill.
Edge of Glory: Another Structural Feature
Another interesting feature of baby teeth is the smooth straight edges. If you have noticed the two front teeth of your child grow in, there is no doubt you saw the mamelons. These are tiny, saw-toothed, or crenelated bumps on the edges of permanent teeth. They actually wear off as the child grows. We never see mamelons in baby teeth. We find that feature of permanent teeth utterly fascinating.
3. A Big Difference Between Milk Teeth and Permanents: The Sheer Number
Another amazing difference between the primary teeth and the permanent teeth is the number of them. The official count, according to the American Dental Association, is that human beings have 20 primary teeth and 32 permanent teeth, including four wisdom teeth.
Open Wide: Why We Have So Few Baby Teeth
It is a simple fact: A child’s mouth is much smaller than an adult’s. Therefore, children don’t have room for a team of molars in the back of the mouth. As humans grow, the jaw elongates and makes space for our massive adult teeth.
Straight from the files of the ADA, let’s examine some more interesting facts that differentiate milk teeth from permanent ones: Did you know that “most children have 28 of their permanent teeth by age 13 years? If your baby is not yet 13 years old, here’s what to expect, in perfect order:
- These include four central incisors,
- four lateral incisors,
- eight premolars,
- four canines and
- eight molars.
Moral: Healthy Primary Teeth Equals Healthy Permanent Teeth
We promised you a moral to our anatomy tale. So, this is it: Proper Care of baby teeth makes straight, attractive, and healthy permanent teeth possible.
Most of us want our children to grow up to be attractive, well-adjusted men and women. This begins with the baby’s first tooth.
If those primary teeth are cared for properly, the chances of permanent teeth being straight and true are dramatically increased. Likewise, the child is less likely to suffer decay, crooked teeth, and other dental problems.
They are also less likely to suffer the “slings and arrows” of cruel jokes from other children. Unkind comments like “hey snaggle tooth” or “Bucky” destroy self-confidence and self-worth.
Nightmare Teething Alert: Symptoms and Treatment
Hey, Mom, Dad, We didn’t forget. We promised you specifics on Teething pain.
Obviously, teething is no fun for you or your 6-Month-old. Baby probably feels like needles are attacking his mouth. And you? You feel like crying because it’s terrible listening to the cry of pain in his or her voice.
Certainly, one of the first concerns of many young moms and dads is “What is wrong”? It’s usually not too hard to guess. The babies are irritable and grumpy and often fretting or crying. Additionally, Mayo Clinic list these as other symptoms you might watch for:
- Drooling incessantly.
- Biting and chewing on everything.
- Excessive sucking on fist or fingers.
- Low appetite.
- Rash around the mouth.
- Swollen or bulging gums.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Tooth visible below the gum line.
- Rubbing their face.
- Ear pulling.
For additional detail and information on teething symptoms and care, see Dentistry For Children’s full blog on teething.
Nightmare Teething Suggestions: What Do I Do Now?
Mom cries, “The baby is crying, the dog is howling, the husband is growling, and I just broke a fingernail. What do I do now?”
All is not lost. Dr. King has advice to calm the crisis. Firstly, just remember, this is a natural process. It’s painful, but every child endures and every parent eventually conquers.
Caution: Most teething problems can be handled at home. However, be sure to consult your doctor if fever is present or if signs of other illness occur.
Special Alert: OTC Nummers!
Additionally, avoid numbing medications without consulting with your Pediatric Dentist. The FDA has warned that some of these across the counter medications could be harmful.
Mayo Clinic states, “If your baby is especially cranky, acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Children’s Motrin, others) might help.”
Here are a few suggestions to get past the worst pain.
- You can use a clean finger or a moist gauze pad to gently rub your baby’s gums. Light pressure can help relieve some discomfort.
- Cool the gums using a cold spoon or a chilled wash cloth. Just be sure they are chilled not frozen. Chilled teething rings can also be a possibility.
- Teething toys are also an option, such as baby teething necklaces. If you do use teething toys, be sure they are BPA-free and nontoxic, and age-appropriate.
- Chilled hard food, such as peeled carrots or cucumber can be helpful. Again, be sure the baby does not get choked.
- Cleaning drool from the baby’s face and mouth can help relieve irritation and rash.
Certainly, teething can be stressful. However, it’s much more manageable once you understand what’s happening and know how to treat the symptoms.
Nightmare Teething: Take-Aways and Misconceptions
Since the primary teeth are designed to fall out, people often have the misconception they don’t need care or protection. Please show your child’s milk teeth some love. Just remember:
- If they are lost early, then, as we noted above, your child’s permanent teeth lose their space-setters. Improper alignment of the teeth could become a life-long problem. Then you really do have nightmare teething–day and night, for decades.
- They can cause pronunciation difficulties in articulating language, leading to ridicule and life-long self-consciousness.
- Likewise, crooked permanent teeth can lead to eating problems and poor diets.
And we must add, caring for milk teeth now is far less expensive than correcting crooked, overlapping, and malformed teeth later.
So, we advise protecting those baby teeth from decay and damage. And remember, Dentistry for Children is a hundred percent dedicated to helping your child attain good oral habits early in life.
Doctor Troy King and his staff sincerely thank you for reading our Dentistry for Children’s blog. You can count on us to continue to connect you to the latest news in pediatric dentistry.