As a parent, we usually can’t wait for our babies’ little teeth to pop up, to make that cute smile even more adorable. However, over the years there have been many tales about the horrors of a teething child.
The truth is, the vast majority of kids fly through teeth eruptions with no problems, but we often see parents that are concerned about the problems that their little ones are experiencing with teething. Hopefully, this article will alleviate some concerns.
When does the first tooth erupt?
You can typically expect the first tooth to erupt from about 6 months of age but this varies from child to child. Certain children may only show signs of eruption at one year of age, whereas some children are born with their first tooth! The first tooth is usually the lower central incisor followed by a variation in the front four lower and upper incisors and then the molars and canines. Children generally have their full set of primary teeth by the age of three.
What are normal teething symptoms?
Many babies may go on as normal during their teething period and only display teething symptoms occasionally. The first sign that a primary tooth will soon erupt is swollen gum tissue where the tooth will emerge. Sometimes a small bubble appears on the gums called eruption cysts before a tooth emerges. An eruption cyst may be blue or even purple in colour. Often children will drool more than usual and repeatedly chew on objects to massage their sore gums. They may also display irritability and trouble sleeping during this time.
When should parents be concerned?
Teething does not make a baby very sick and any child that is experiencing a high fever or severe diarrhoea should be seen by a doctor. This should not be passed off as just ‘teething’. Young children are vulnerable to a myriad of conditions that can cause a fever, one of which is ear infections. Babies have an immature immune system and there are many other infections and conditions that can cause a baby to drool, complain and experience a high fever and loss of appetite, so consult your paediatrician if your baby’s fever is high, or if you are just unsure.
What can you do for your baby?
There are many teething toys and pacifiers on the market and we suggest that you find one that your child is comfortable with as texture preferences vary from child to child. Ensure that the device that you choose is a soft material if there are already other teeth present, and it is big enough to avoid the danger of choking. Some parents find that fluid-containing rings, which have been cooled in the fridge, bring quite a bit of relief. If there are no teething toys nearby, a clean damp washcloth that has been twisted into a pretzel-rod and cooled in the fridge can be used. There are various teething gels available at pharmacies, but they are usually not warranted. If you do use them, be sure to follow their directions as excessive use should be avoided. Do not apply Aspirin directly onto your baby’s gum as this can cause severe burning of the tissue.
Benzocaine-containing products are also not recommended for children under two years of age, unless prescribed by a healthcare professional. Any homeopathic teething products that have not been evaluated or approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) for safety or effectiveness should be avoided at all costs. Finally, it is vital that your child’s gums are kept clean during the eruption phase to avoid any infection and reduce discomfort. Excellent oral care from a young age can set the foundation for a lifetime of good oral health.
Children go through many changes and milestones in the first two years of their life and teething shouldn’t be a challenging one. Hopefully, these tips will help all the wonderful mums out there and their babies.