The appearance of your baby’s first tooth is a major milestone in her development, and one that will likely have you sharing photographs with family, friends. Unfortunately, the arrival doesn’t always go smoothly – it can be a testing time for both you and your baby, as there will certainly be some discomfort involved, leading to yet more sleepless nights and grizzled behavior. Patience and understanding is key to getting you through this. Just remember, this too shall pass.
There are usually some warning signs that a tooth is on its way, and can include an increase in saliva or drooling, your baby may want to bite down on toys (or even people!), flushed cheeks and swollen gums, and a general condition shown through loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping and irritability.
Many parents will tell you that teething is often accompanied by other problems such as stomach upsets or colds, although most medical experts say that there is no real connection, and that young children are more or less constantly fighting off one bug or another, and so any signs of illness appearing together with teething are probably just coincidences.
Teething generally starts at around 6 months, although as with all things related to babies and kids, your own experience may vary. Very few babies will be born sporting 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, 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 real ordeal. Unfortunately, there is nothing we as parents can do to speed the growth, but there are ways to relieve the discomfort a little. As parents, it is a very unpleasant feeling knowing your child is hurting and there is nothing you can really do but give lots of love and cuddles. My son has done great through his teething spurts. There have only been a couple of times where it was bad to where he would have a screeching painful cry and would not drink. He would eat a little but did not want to drink. Of course when he was like that, my mind raced and had me feeling on edge, wondering if it was teething, an ear infection or a sickness. However, my mommy intuition has not been wrong thus far and I knew my little guy was teething. I monitored his temperature and made him take in liquids to avoid dehydration and within a few days he was better and back to his old self. And sure enough when I felt around in his mouth he had more teeth coming through.
The most traditional remedy for 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.
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!
Finally, you may find yourself having to resort to pain relief medication if the problem is severe or if you notice a fever. 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, such as anti-fever preparations, can also be very useful – especially at bed time.
Hopefully your own baby will not have too much difficulty developing a healthy toothy grin, but if you’re finding teething is a problem, then remember that it doesn’t last forever, and keep counting the teeth as they arrive!
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