Teething Symptoms: 4 Signs Your Child Is Teething

Teething can give both your baby and you many sleepless nights. Here are some symptoms you must look out for and remedies you should know about.

By Jayanthi Madhukar

Teething Symptoms: 4 Signs Your Child Is Teething

Is your little one acting fussy and putting all objects that he can lay his hands on, into his mouth? Then, your baby is on his way to reaching an important milestone — getting his first tooth.        

Typically, your baby gets his first tooth between the ages of five and 12 months. In some babies, it appears sooner (three months) and in some, much later (around 14 months). But, as the first tooth i.e. the bottom incisor, makes it appearance, the discomfort often causes your baby to be cranky and fretful. As the incisor cuts through the tender gums, your baby has several issues to deal with. He will have pain in the gums, extra drooling and the urge to gnaw everything in sight.

Remember, the worst phase of teething is usually when your baby gets the first few teeth. Central incisors or the bottom front teeth are usually the first to appear. These are followed by the four upper teeth or central and lateral incisors.

The entire teething process need not be an ordeal for both your baby and you. We asked Dr Kirpa Johar, Director of Haridaan Dental Clinic and Academy, to help list out the symptoms and remedies for teething woes.

Signs of teething

When your little one is about six months old, she may begin to refuse solid foods. Instead, she is likely to chew on whatever she gets her hands on. This makes her prone to infections. “As a parent, your guard should be up when the baby is around six months old and the first tooth makes it appearance. The process of teething continues until the child is around two years,” Dr Johar notes.

Symptoms

Although nursing mothers will first feel the brunt of teething, here are some of the other signs of teething:

  1. Excessive salivation or drooling is commonplace during teething. The saliva is nature’s way to help cool off inflamed and tender gums. So, the pearly whites have a way to announce their appearance. The constant contact with drooling will irritate the baby’s lips and chin. If you or the baby keep rubbing off the drool, chances of friction-induced rashes on the face are more.
  2. Swollen, hard and bulging gums are another sign of teething. If you peek into your baby’s mouth, you may even see some roughness on the lower gum. That is, actually a tooth which is cutting its way out. The pain may make it a rough ride for your baby.
  3. Loss of appetite and irritability are common during this time. When your baby is teething, your baby may avoid eating solids and instead, want to keep on chewing on random objects. There will be times when you will feel helpless and unable to pacify the baby. In many cases, irritability gets worse at night, thanks to troubled sleep. Although there is no specific medical reason for this, it could be because they are tired and unlike daytime, there is nothing to distract them.
  4. Your child might get a slight fever when teething. Low-grade fever (less than 100 degrees F) is sometimes associated with teething. However, if the fever is higher, it could be due to some other cause and will require a visit to the doctor. 
Dr Johar says, “Teething has been found to occur over approximately eight days. The pain associated with teething is dull, with growing intensity in the four days leading up to the eruption of the tooth. Then it rapidly decreases, unless the eruption is associated with inflammation, which may take several days to heal. The majority of children have all or many of these symptoms in combination during the teething phase. There may be a very small percentage of children who may not exhibit any of these teething symptoms at all.”

Managing Teething

There are various pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods of managing teething: 

  • Teething rings can provide temporary pain relief. Keep the teething rings chilled to freezing temperatures. It should be attached to the child’s clothes, not around the neck, to avoid the risk of strangulation and repeated misplacing or dropping. These teething rings have to be washed and sanitised periodically to maintain hygiene. Solid silicone rings are preferable to fluid filled rings that may leak.
  • If you prefer to give frozen vegetables, clean them thoroughly by washing in water. Cut the vegetables like carrots into long finger-food sized portions and put them in the freezer. Adult supervision is mandatory. 
  • You can dab the drooling, but do not rub it off. Constant rubbing or wiping often causes the child’s skin to break, typically in the lower lip and chin area. To avoid rashes in the corner of the mouth of your baby, dab the saliva off the chin and mouth periodically.
  • You could rub the baby’s gum with your clean finger, a chilled, clean washcloth or a chilled spoon. This will offer temporary relief. 
  • Stock some teething foods like hard sugar-free rusks, bread sticks or any such hard finger foods.
  • Make sure that your baby’s favourite toys are cleaned frequently as he may tend to put them in the mouth more often during teething.
  • Avoid applying home remedies like clove oil to the swollen gums. It can burn the tender skin of your baby. Instead, use topical analgesics and anaesthetics based on your doctor’s advice.

“Above all these, what a child primarily needs is the care and loving arms of a parent (or caregiver), who will reassure the child that all will be well. The child needs immense care and nurturing during these testing times," says Dr Johar. 

Dental hygiene of your baby

Once the teeth are out, parents need to pay attention to dental hygiene. You can try out infant toothbrushes available in the market or use a soft cloth to gently wipe clean your baby's first few teeth. Around one year of age, gently brush your infant’s teeth with a soft toothbrush using a tiny bit of non-fluoride toothpaste. It is also time to have an appointment with a paediatric dentist.

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