Often, many parents blame everything from fussiness to drool on teething and while that may very well be the culprit, it isn’t always the case.
The number one thing that I have heard parents associate with teething is drool. Copious amounts of drool. And yes, babies do often drool more when they are teething (this is especially true for babies who were already droolers), but drool on it’s own is not a sign of teething. Asher started drooling like a faucet at 2 months old but he didn’t get his first tooth until he was 7 months old. Five months of teething? I think not. In fact, drooling is an important part of cognitive development for babies and even though some babies may not seem to drool, it’s just because they’ve figured out how to swallow the excess saliva rather than dribble it out.
All babies experience teething differently. Some babies are inconsolable while others will pop a pair of molars without anyone being the wiser. There is really no way to tell but in general most babies fall somewhere in the middle, with some teeth bothering them more than others. So even though most parents (myself included) love to blame a bout of fussiness on teething, it just may not be the case.
The only sure fire way to tell if your child is teething it to look for red, swollen and inflamed gums in the area you expect a tooth to appear. And keep in mind that teeth generally appear in pairs although they’re usually staggered.
Teething discomfort (if it’s present) can last anywhere from 2-3 days up to a week PER tooth for the canines and incisors, but the molars can take anywhere from one week to several months.
While teeth can appear in any order and at a wide range of times (some babies are born with pearly whites, while others are all gums until well after a year) on average the first tooth usually appears around 6-10 months. The following image illustrates the most common order and age range of eruption for primary teeth:
Ok, ok, that’s all very well and good you say, but what you really want to know is what you can do to help sooth a baby who’s having a rough time of teething.
Well let me start off with what you shouldn’t do. DO NOT use any products containing benzocaine (ex. Orajel). Doing so can lead to methemoglobinemia, which is a serious and sometimes fatal condition, which is why the “FDA recommends that parents and caregivers not use benzocaine products for children younger than 2 years, except under the advice and supervision of a health care professional”.
Instead you can try any or all the following:
Using a teething ring or wet wash cloth that has been chilled in the refrigerator (not the freezer).
Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen are great options (especially at night when other methods may interfere with sleep). Although you should always check with your pediatrician first before using any medications, (including homeopathic ones).
Massage the area with your finger.
Put frozen fruit in a mesh baby feeder and letting your baby (6 months and older) gnaw on it:
What are your experiences with teething? Do you have any remedies that you swear by?