Tips for the tiny teethers.

Beginning with the central incisors, around 4 to 8 months of age and lasting up to age 3, the primary (non-permanent) teeth start to come through the gums.  This can at times be uncomfortable for a child and difficult for the caregivers who just want the child to be happy.

Teething should never be a continued excuse as to why an infant is crying.  Teething can occasionally cause irritability, but should never cause a fever (temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit).  Also, teething should not be a cause for diarrhea.  If these symptoms are present, consult with your pediatrician.

Around the time that the primary teeth begin to erupt, you may notice that your child is drooling and chewing on toys and other items more than before.   Along with these new habits, infants begin to become more active, potentially crawling or rolling to other areas of the room which means more items within reach that are potential choking hazards. Look over your home. This is best performed from the view of your child (i.e. lying on the floor) and seeing what items are within reach (toys, electric cords, plants, etc.).  Remove any potentially dangerous items.

Help to prevent rashes by wiping off any drool with a clean cloth.

There is no shortage of “home remedies” that people will swear by relieves teething discomfort.  Some remedies that are most supported by parents and many physicians are:

  • Teething ring – placed into the freezer.  Ones made of rubber are best as rings with liquids or gels inside have the potential to break or leak.  It is important to take the ring out of the freezer prior to it becoming too hard.  Teething rings can cause more discomfort to the infant if they chew on very hard rubber.
  • Pacifier
  • Your clean finger – gently rubbing or massaging the gums can provide comfort.  This is usually easier with the eruption of the first few teeth and becomes increasingly more difficult as more teeth come in.
  • Cold washcloth – dampen a clean washcloth and place it into the freezer (removing it before it is rock hard).  Allow the child to chew on the washcloth, but remember to wash it after each use.
  • Ice-Pop – once your child begins to drink juice or even with milk/formula, you can make ice cubes or ice pops with their favorite liquid.  If making ice pops, never let your child walk or run with a popsicle stick in their mouth or hands.

Generally, topical (creams or gels) or oral pain relievers are not necessary. Topical pain relievers are washed out of the mouth quickly by saliva. Additionally, swallowing amounts of topical medicines (even if natural or over- the-counter) can be harmful.  Before giving any pain relieving medication, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol ®) or other pain reliever, even if it is natural, talk with your pediatrician.

For more information on teething or oral care, please consult with your pediatrician.