Nothing melts a new parent’s heart quite like a wide infant grin that shows off their new little teeth. However, those adorable pearly whites cutting through sensitive gums can cause irritability and discomfort for baby and exhaustion and stress for moms and dads. You’ll do anything to relieve your baby’s pain. But before you start following the advice of friends and family, do your research. Turns out, some teething information you thought was fact is a myth.
When to Expect Your Baby’s First Tooth
Most babies begin to cut their first tooth between 6 and 12 months. However, it can happen as early as two months. The first teeth to come in are usually the two bottom front teeth (lower central incisors) followed by the two top front teeth (central incisors). Most children will have all their baby teeth by the age of three.
Symptoms of Teething
As the tooth begins to move towards the surface of the gum tissue, you may notice your baby’s gums appear slightly red or swollen. Other symptoms of teething include:
• Increased drooling
• Restlessness and irritability
• Difficulty sleeping because of gum discomfort
• Decreased appetite because of sore gums
• Putting hands in their mouth
• Mild rash around the mouth due to excessive drooling
• Rubbing the cheek or ear, especially when molars start to come in
When you become a parent, you will soon discover everyone has their own opinions on what’s best for your baby. Unfortunately, when it comes to teething, much of the advice is based off old-wives’ tales and hearsay rather than sound medical information. Here are a few common teething myths you may here:
Myth: Teething causes fever
Fact: Gum irritation may cause your child’s temperature to go up by a degree or two. However, anything over 100.4 is unrelated to teething and could be a symptom that your child is be sick.
Myth: Teething causes diarrhea
Fact: While many parents notice an increase in runny stools during teething, there is no medical evidence that teething directly causes diarrhea. The most likely culprit is bacteria. Babies tend to put everything in their mouths and not all of it is clean.
Myth: Teething causes earaches
Fact: Nerves in the back teeth extend to the middle ear, so it can feel like the pain is radiating into the ear. If your child is tugging on their ear, running a fever, or uncomfortable lying down, it’s more likely an ear infection and not teething.
Myth: Amber necklaces alleviate pain
Fact: Amber teething necklaces for babies have become a popular fad in recent years. Claims state the amber releases a pain-relieving substance when warmed by the baby’s body temperature and absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream. Truthfully, there is no scientific evidence to back this claim and these necklaces can pose more of a risk. In fact, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a warning in 2018 after receiving reports of children breaking the necklaces and choking on beads or being strangled by the necklaces while sleeping.
Myth: Teething gels are safe for infants
Fact: Some popular teething gels, such as Orajel or Anbesol, are marketed to alleviate teething discomfort. These gels contain benzocaine, an anesthetic commonly used as a topical pain reliever. The FDA warns against giving a baby benzocaine because it can cause a rare but sometimes fatal condition called methemoglobinemia, which reduces the amount of oxygen delivered to the cells.
How to alleviate teething discomfort
Don’t worry, you and your baby don’t have to suffer through the teething stage. Thankfully, there are a few ways to alleviate teething discomfort so you’re seeing less irritability and more of those cute, toothy grins.
Offer non-toxic teething toys. Of course, you would never intentionally give your baby a toy that could be harmful. However, it’s not always evident when you are perusing the toy aisle. Stay away from toys with beads or small parts that can break or come loose and become a choking hazard. Also, stay away from teething toys that contain liquids, as the plastic can puncture as teeth come in and end up being swallowed. Look for toys that contain 100% natural rubber, untreated natural hard wood, 100% organic cotton, food-grade silicone or food-grade safe plastics.
Chill a clean, damp washcloth in the fridge and let baby chew on it. The chill will help ease the pain. Avoid putting things in the freezer for your baby to chew on, as the extreme cold could burn your baby’s gums. Massage gums with a clean finger or a clean damp cloth. The pressure will help alleviate the pain. Administer infant acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Consult your baby’s pediatrician first and always follow the package instructions.
Pediatric Dental Associates of Alabama is led by top-rated pediatric dentists with locations in Birmingham, Cullman, Medplex-Hoover, Oxford and Pell City. Our vision is to be the premier provider of pediatric dental services in Alabama. Beautiful smiles are our specialty!