Teething causes suffering. It might be one of the first uncomfortable stages of experiences about being human. Here at Dentistry for Children, we have empathy for the baby who suffers the pain and discomfort.
However, we also have sympathy for parents who must survive the Eye-Popping, Jaw-Dropping, heart-wrenching misery of being helpless in the face of their baby’s misery.
They can only look at the tiny tears in baby’s eyes.
And they are unable to explain the teething scenario to a little one. AAPD President, Dr. James Nickman recently addressed the issue of teething in interviews with Laurel Niedospial for her article entitled, “Everything You Need to Know About Baby Teething — Including How to Soothe the Pain.” Like us, he noted that the parents go through this necessary misery too.
“Watching your little one suffer is heart-wrenching, especially when they’re so small and unable to tell you what’s troubling them.”
Symptoms of Teething and Some Witty Sayings to Cut Your Eye-Teeth On!
Every baby will grow teeth at his own time and rate, but they typically begin teething by six months of age.
While the teeth are growing and finding their way to daylight, the following list of symptoms wax and wane.
1. Incessant Slobbering: The technical term for this symptom is “Drooling,” and babies who teethe do a lot of it. Don’t worry. You’ll need some small towels.
A Baby’s point of View (from a Somee card): “A Teething Baby is so much fun,” said no mother ever!”
2. Gnawing on Everything: During teething, chewing on objects seems to comfort baby. We wonder what goes on in the baby’s mind. A Baby’s point of View: Just imagine. Everything in your world is soft and warm. And suddenly there are sharp blades coming up right into your tender mouth. You might think that you could chew, nash and chomp, and get them out. That logic might make you chew on everything and anything.
A Baby’s Point of View: One baby might say to another, “Teethed any good books lately?”
3. The Shifting Personality: Enter, the grumbler. Unquestionably irritable and fussy, the baby is not happy during teething time. Irritability or crankiness is one of the primary signs that teeth are growing.
A Baby’s Point of View: “Tonight at 3:00 AM, I’ll start screaming and see if they can guess why.”
4. Oh, My Aching Gums: Babies must endure sore, aching or tender gums, and they don’t know that all the suffering will be worth it. (As they get older, they will love having teeth but try as we might, we cannot convey this message to them.)
5. Thermometer Time? Mayo clinic includes a Low-grade rectal fever of 99 F (37.2 C) as a symptom of teething. However, they draw the line at 100.4 F or 38C. “Many parents suspect that teething causes higher fever and diarrhea. But researchers say they aren’t indications of teething. If your baby has a rectal temperature of 100.4 F (38 C) or diarrhea, talk to your doctor.”
Teething Survival Tip for Parents: Knowledge is Power
Dr. Jim Nickman, president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), understands how frustrating the developmental stage of growing teeth can be for parents.
Dr. Nickman believes that knowing “what to expect and when to expect it” is an important step in helping children cope with the painful process of growing teeth. Thus, Dr. Nickman set up a roadmap to guide parents and caregivers from one pearly white enamel milestone to the next.
Enamel Milestone 1: Teething at 6 to 12 months
As we said, the fireworks begin at about 6 months. Dr. Nickman said, “The process usually starts with the lower middle front teeth, the central incisors, followed by the upper middle front teeth.” Don’t worry, however, if your child starts teething later. He stated, “Sometimes parents are concerned that their child doesn’t have a tooth by the first birthday, but it’s not usually a problem as some children’s teeth are slower to come in. Boys’ teeth, for example, come in later than girls’,” he added.
Enamel Milestone 2: 9 to 16 months
Now the line-up begins to go deep: “At this age, the lateral incisors, usually the lower ones, pop up.” In other words, the teeth on the sides of his smile are starting to shine.
Big Enamel Milestone Number 3: 13 to 19 months
Your baby’s photos will change forever now since the smile is starting to fill with teeth. Dr. Nickman states. “The front smile starts to come together in the 13- to 19-month time frame. In most children, the first baby molars have erupted, and the canines are close too.”
The Tooth Fairy’s Evil Twin is the Teething Fairy: Number 4- Enamel Milestone -17 to 23 months
Woof! Baby has lower canines now! Your child has worked hard to grow so many teeth. He or she is very mobile at this point too. So it’s up to you to protect all these new teeth, by helping avoid bumps and falls.
“This is also when infants start to move faster as they gain confidence. Unfortunately, they are a little wobbly and prone to falls. Call your pediatric dentist if your child has a significant bump that affects the teeth.”
Enamel Milestone 5: 23 to 33 months
Boom, boom, suddenly baby has another set of some deeply etched molars. “The second baby molars are starting to erupt. Parents are amazed at the size and strength of these nice big teeth. Dr. Nickman added, “You can easily identify them because their grooves are deeper than the other teeth present.”
At the Heart of the Teething Matter: How to Ease Teething Pain
First: The Magic of the Ring
Dr. Nickman’s list for easing the pain of teething is the firm rubber teething ring, a classic in the arsenal of parent’s weapons to fight the pain of teething.
However, avoid liquid-filled teething rings or other plastic objects that could break,” Dr. Nickman warned.
Not only can the liquid in the rings cause mold, but also, as you might have heard on the news, some rings include Bella Donna in that liquid.
The CDC stated, “Belladonna is an incredibly toxic hallucinogen and can be fatal for children. In its press release, the CDC reported, “seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, skin flushing, constipation, difficulty urinating, or agitation.” So, parents cannot believe all the colorful promises on some of those bright packages, especially if the teething “toy” has liquid inside it.
Second: A Simple Comfort for Teething
Dr. Nickman stated, “For some children, simply putting pressure on the sore area might be enough to help.” He added, “Rubbing the gums with a cool, wet cloth can be helpful. If you place the washcloth in the freezer prior to use, run it under water before placing in your child’s mouth.”
Third: Avoid those Over-the-Counter or Prescription Gels and Ointments
Not only what you do, but what you don’t do is important when you have a baby who is teething. Dentistry for Children joins with the FDA, the AAPD and Dr. Nickman in their warnings about medications to rub on baby gums for teething. Thus, “The Food and Drug Administration discourages using over-the-counter topical gum soothers on children.
The FDA states, “Too often well-meaning parents, grandparents and caregivers want to soothe a teething baby by rubbing numbing medications on the tot’s gums, using potentially harmful drugs instead of safer, non-toxic alternatives.” Not only can they cause other health problems, but “Topical pain relievers or other medications that can be massaged on the gums are rarely effective as they wash out very quickly.” (Remember symptom number One? Drooling!)
The Terrific Take-Away
Both the FDA and the APDA “warn that prescription drugs such as viscous lidocaine are not safe for treating teething in infants or young children and that they have hurt some children who used those products.”
Not only are infant versions of acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen safer for the baby than gum meds, but they work better. As Dr. Nickman stated, “If needed, more effective long-term relief can be found by using over-the-counter infant versions of acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen.
For parents who need comfort and reassurance during the teething cycle, Dentistry for Children has a small prescription: Keep your sense of humor about it all. We recently saw a few witty sayings that make light of this difficult time. On a baby bib, under a cute sketch of an angry cartoon tooth, we saw the message, “Back Off, I’m Teething.” Likewise, on Mom’s tee-shirt were the words, “Don’t talk to me. My Baby is Teething.” Of course, the witty sayings in this article are ironic and meant to be taken with a grin.
We thank you for reading the blog at Dentistry for Children. We have more information coming to you on this topic in the upcoming Part II of our coverage of Teething in the 21st Century. Meanwhile, we know; teething is not for sissies.