Babies typically start to get teeth anywhere between 6-12 months. Symptoms such as drooling, hands in the mouth and irritability can begin weeks or months before the first tooth makes its appearance. There are many misconceptions about teething and overall it can be a frustrating time for both baby and parent.
Teething myth #1: teething causes fevers
This is false. Although many children do end up having a fever during the time that teeth are erupting, it is not caused by teething itself. When teeth are growing in babies often have their hands in their mouths trying to scratch or soothe their gums. It is having their hands in their mouths that can cause them to pick up a virus or a cold that results in a fever. The fever can and should be treated under guidance of your child’s pediatrician. The best way to prevent your child from coming down with a virus is to do your best to keep their hands clean and out of their mouths.
Teething myth #2: teething causes red cheeks
Red cheeks are another common finding that people associate with teeth growing in. Some children do have flushed cheeks during tooth eruption, but this is not a direct result the teeth coming in. Constant drool and saliva can irritate the skin and cause redness. This drool rash does resolve on its own, and keeping the skin as dry as possible will help it resolve faster.
Things to help your child
As parents our concern is helping keep our child comfortable during this process. Soft silicone toys are great for your child to chew on and can be chilled for further comfort. Another popular solution is a frozen washcloth, the texture and chill really help to soothe itchy gums. Nubbly baby toothbrushes can both help with discomfort and with starting your child getting used brushing their teeth.
A safety warning for parents
There are some homeopathic remedies that claim to relieve teething pain for children. Be very careful and read the labels as these are often not regulated and can contain harmful levels of belladonna (a toxic substance) in them. Amber necklaces are popular among some parents however they can be a serious choking hazard for little ones so are best avoided as well. It is also not recommended to use and over the counter topical anesthetic like orajel as it is easy to overdose a small baby causing a serious reaction called methemoglobinemia.
It gets better!
If your child is in distress and standard techniques are not working consult with your pediatrician or pediatric dentist on the appropriate dosage of infant Tylenol or ibuprofen. Hang in there parents, a beautiful smile is on its way. Help keep it healthy by taking your child to a pediatric dentist within 6 months of the first tooth erupting or by one year of age (whichever is sooner). If you have any questions or concerns our office is happy to help, give us a call or set up and appointment.
Dr. Ashleigh Sebro is a Board-Certified pediatric dentist as well as the owner and founder of Wilton Pediatric Dentistry. She is committed to providing gentle and compassionate dental care to children with the hopes of creating a generation who is not scared of the dentist. Dr. Sebro has been recognized as one of the top 40 under 40 dentists in America for her dedication to pediatric dental health and her focus on prevention.