Many babies sprout their first teeth without too many problems. However, for the unfortunate ones that do experience discomfort, teething can be a very difficult process.
How Can I Tell If My Baby Has Problems Teething?
Unfortunately, your baby can't tell you when they are in discomfort, and it's very easy to think they're crying for another reason. Therefore, you have to be on the look out for some of the following:
- Red, flushed cheeks
- An inordinate amount of drooling
- Difficulty feeding
- Unsettled and highly irritable
- Excessive gum biting or sucking
- Red and swollen gums
Your baby may also suffer from a fever or diarrhea during teething. However, these symptoms may be due to something more sinister, and you should check with your doctor if you are concerned.
Why is Teething So Painful For My Baby?
Have you ever sprouted a wisdom tooth and been in a significant amount of pain? Well, imagine that multiplied by ten. Your baby's teeth actually start to develop in the uterus, however the small tooth buds were kept underneath the gums. Now that these have started to push through the surface, the gums can quickly become painful and swollen.
Gentle pressure on your baby's teeth whilst chewing may help to relieve the pain. Nonetheless, their gums are likely to be particularly sensitive during this process. This makes bottle or breastfeeding particularly difficulty, so don't be surprised if they turn away from you.
What Can I Do To Help?
You may be concerned about using pain relief medication or teething gels to help reduce your baby's discomfort. This is perfectly understandable, and there are a few things you can try before resorting to such measures:
- Give your baby something cool to bite on, as the cold surface can help numb their gums from further discomfort.
- Use a teething ring. These are typically either silicone-based or liquid-filled, however silicone-based are recommended as they won't leak.
- Cool the teething ring down by placing it in your fridge for a while, prior to giving it to your baby.
- Try giving your baby a dummy to chew down on; the soft surface may allow your baby to soothe themselves.
If your child is more than six months old and has no problems consuming soft foods, then you could also try giving them soft foods to chew. Bananas and cucumbers work great for this. Be careful however, as harder foods could break into small pieces that could potentially choke your baby.
What About Medication and Teething Gels?
The most common medication suggested for teething pains is paracetamol. This is fine so long as your baby is over two months old. However, you should seek professional advice from your doctor before administering the medication. Also, check the packaging for dosage levels or ask your pharmacist if you're unsure how much to give your baby.
Teething gels can also be used, and are effective in relieving pain and preventing any infections from occurring. These gels contain a local anesthetic and antiseptic, and can be administered on to the gum with some cotton wool in order to numb the area. Like medication, it's important to check the packaging to understand the correct dosages and how often they can be used. Additionally, there are some side effects from teething gels that you may want to avoid.
How Long Will the Teething Pains Last?
Unfortunately, there's no way to decide when your baby's first tooth will break the surface. For most, the first tooth sprouts at around six months old, however this is highly variable. The teething process can last way beyond this, though your baby should have all their milk teeth by the time they are two and a half years old.
The good news is that the first tooth is undoubtedly the most painful. After this initial barrier has been overcome, the rest will begin to come through more easily. By following the above tips you should be able to make this process as pain-free as possible, however if you are concerned you should contact your doctor as soon as possible to get more information.