Teething occurs as new teeth work their way through the gums. Though teething is usually painless, your child may develop the following symptoms during teething:
- Increased saliva
- A desire to chew on objects
- Gum pain
- Referred pain to the ears resulting in pulling at the ears
Teething may begin as early as 3-4 months of age, though teething typically begins between 6-10 months of age.
Gum Massage - Vigorously massage the irritated or swollen gum with your finger for two minutes as often as necessary. You may use a piece of ice to massage the gum.
Teething Rings - You can allow your child to chew on either a solid teething ring or one with a liquid (purified water) in the center. Most children enjoy teething rings cold. Alternatively, babies who are teething may find comfort by chewing on a cold, wet washcloth that has been kept in the refrigerator (or placed in the freezer for 30 minutes). Teething biscuits or small pieces of a cold banana are other soothing suggestions for teething discomfort. Please avoid hard foods that may cause your child to choke.
Diet - Avoid salty or acidic foods. A cup for fluids can be used temporarily if sucking on a nipple appears to cause discomfort.
Medicines - Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be used for pain relief for a few days. Special teething gels (Oragel, etc) are usually not necessary. These gels contain benzocaine, which causes the mouth to become numb, but may also result in an allergic reaction. Before using these gels on your child, you should put a tiny bit on your own gum to understand the bitter taste and unusual feeling that results from these medicines. If you choose to use these gels, you should use them less than four times a day.
Things To Remember:
Teething does not cause fevers or colds. Fevers and other illnesses should not be blamed on teething.
Teething does not cause sleep problems, diarrhea, diaper rash, or lowered resistance to any infection.
Do not tie the teething ring around the neck. Instead, use a teething clip to prevent it from catching on something and strangling the infant.
CALL OUR OFFICE IF:
- No teeth are present by 14 months of age.
- You have any questions or concerns.
Adapted from Instructions for Pediatric Patients by Barton Schmitt (2nd edition, 1999) with permission from the author.