Keeping Kids Healthy Advice
There are many old-wives tales surrounding teething, including that it gives a baby fever, makes them fussy, causes drooling and gives them diarrhea. Teething has been blamed for many conditions throughout history, including as a cause of death.
The symptoms associated with teething are not present in every infant. Some babies may show an increase in chewing, drooling, and decrease in appetite, but some infants have no symptoms at all.
A runny nose, fever, vomiting and diarrhea are signs of illness not of teething, but a baby’s temperature may be slightly higher than normal if he or she is teething. If your baby develops a high fever, vomits or has diarrhea, contact your pediatrician.
Saliva production begins at around two to three months of age, when the salivary glands begin working. Many parents think that drooling is a sign of teething, but it is just part of a baby’s normal development.
For most infants teething is painless, but some do experience some discomfort. A baby’s gums may become swollen and red about four to five days before or after their tooth appears, but the swelling does not last for weeks or months.
If you think that your child is teething and is uncomfortable, give him or her something cold, such as a clean, damp wash cloth that has been placed in the freezer for 30 minutes, a chilled (not frozen) teething ring. If you choose to use a teething ring, avoid the ones that are filled with liquid because they may break. Older infants can be given a frozen bagel, banana or even a Popsicle.
You can give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen, but do not give it for longer than three days. Never place an aspirin tablet or rub whiskey or any other kind of alcohol on your baby’s gums and never tie a teething ring around a baby’s neck because it can get caught on something and strangle your child. Over-the-counter topical anesthetics that contain benzocaine, but no saccharine or alcohol may also help relieve your child’s pain. Benzocaine numbs the surface of your baby’s gums, but may cause your child to become allergic to other anesthetic “caines” so caution is advised.
Babies usually begin to get their first teeth between 4 and 12 months of age. Some infants get their first tooth before and some do not get one until after they turn one. On rare occasions, babies are born with one or two teeth or will have a tooth appear within their first few weeks. Usually the first tooth that appears is one of the lower front teeth. Most children have all 20 teeth by their third birthday.
Start brushing your child’s teeth twice a day when they appear. It may be easier to use a piece of clean gauze at first until the tooth has fully emerged from the gums. Baby’s first toothbrush should have very soft bristles and a small head. Use a low-fluoride toothpaste until your child’s permanent teeth appear. Replace toothbrushes every three months.
Remember – don’t take the chance and blame teething for what may be a sign of illness.