Most parents feel a shiver go down their spine when they hear the word “teething”, while some may smile smugly because the whole process was a walk in the park. The average age for a baby to get her first tooth is 6 months but it could happen anywhere between 3-14 months. It is a pretty special moment to see that first baby tooth peeking up through the gums!
Symptoms can vary widely from baby to baby and can also start weeks before any tooth appears. Some of the more common symptoms include:
- Puffy gums
- Red flushed cheeks or face
- Gnawing or gum rubbing
- Excessive drooling
- Fussiness (especially at night)
- Ear pulling
- Change in eating habits
If your baby develops a fever or diarrhea call a doctor.
Ways to Sooth the Pain
There are a few natural ways to sooth baby before talking to your doctor about pain relief products:
- A wet or frozen washcloth that baby can chew on
- A cold teething ring (solid silicone-based is recommended over liquid-filled)
- Gum massage with a clean finger
- A soother to chew on
- If your baby is over 6 months you could try hard, sugar-free teething biscuits or cold fruit purees
The Canadian Dental Association recommends against using any kind of pain killer that can be rubbed on to your baby’s gums because she might swallow some of it.
Caring for this Adorable New Tooth
Try to get into the habit of running a clean, damp washcloth or a soft infant toothbrush over your baby’s gums every day, even before that first tooth has appeared. Once baby has her pearly white, follow these tips for good oral health:
- Clean the teeth at least once a day with a soft bristled toothbrush designed for babies
- Avoid putting baby to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice, or sweetened liquid. These liquids feed bacteria in the mouth that cause tooth decay
- After six months introduce a sippy cup
Non-fluoridated toothpaste is usually introduced between 1-2 years of age, however the Canadian Dental Association recommends that if your child is considered low risk for tooth decay then the teeth should be brushed by an adult using a toothbrush moistened only with water. Parents should consult a health professional.
Try to take lots of pictures of your baby’s first tooth when she gives you a big grin, and be sure to record how old she was when it poked through. The Baby Charm Blanket offers a first “tooth” Wee Charm to record this special milestone in seconds. Always a proud parent!
For more information on baby teething and oral health, check out the following sites:
- Canadian Dental Association - dental care for children
- Caring for Kids - developed by the Canadian Paediatric Society