How to Make Teething Easier on Your Baby

The Order that Teeth Grow in

Babies' teeth often grow in pairs in a specific order. The first teeth to come in will likely be the bottom front teeth (bottom central incisors), and then be followed by the top front teeth (top central incisors). The top teeth on either side of the front teeth are likely to be the next to grow in. They are then followed by the teeth on either side of the bottom front teeth. These teeth are referred to as lateral incisors. After this step a pair of molars near the back of the babies mouth will begin to grow from the top and then the bottom. When the molars start to come in there will likely be a gap between them and the baby's lateral incisors. This gap will be filled in by the baby's canines. The top canines should grow in and then be followed by the bottom canines. The last pairs of teeth to begin growing are the second molars located at the back of the mouth. The bottom back molars will likely grow in before the top back molars. At this stage the baby now has successfully grown their deciduous teeth. Deciduous teeth refer to teeth that will eventually fall out and be replaced by permanent teeth. They are sometimes referred to as baby teeth or milk teeth. All twenty teeth should have grown in by the time the baby is about three years old. They will start to fall out between the ages of five and thirteen and be replaced by permanent teeth.

Dental Care

Dental hygiene is very important despite the fact that their deciduous teeth will eventually fall out and be replaced. Tooth decay can lead to deciduous teeth falling out before permanent teeth are ready to replace them. This can lead to dental issues when the permanent teeth eventually do come in.

Caring for a baby's teeth can begin before they've even started teething. Wiping a baby's gums daily with a clean and damp washcloth can help with their dental hygiene. When the first tooth starts to come in it should be brushed daily with a soft toothbrush designed and sized for infants. Do not use toothpaste when cleaning a baby's teeth until they are able to understand that it should be spit out and not swallowed. Swallowing toothpaste can be harmful to a baby and should not be introduced to babies until they are around three years old and capable of understanding that it should be spat out. Even when it is okay to use toothpaste only a small pea-sized amount should be used and the child should be monitored to make sure they don't swallow it.

Flossing is also a crucial part to good dental hygiene. Babies should be comfortable and familiar with flossing so it is a good idea to let them watch a parent floss before hand. A good time to start flossing a baby's teeth is when their teeth begin to touch their neighbouring teeth. Typically this is around the age of two and a half. Children should be flossed multiple times a week.

Another important step to good dental hygiene is to limit sugary drinks and juices. Sugars in juice, formula, or breast milk can lead to tooth decay. It is especially important to not let a baby sleep with a bottle containing a sugary drink. Babies occasionally will fall asleep and let drinks pool in their mouths. This can be especially harmful to their teeth.

It is recommended that babies see a dentist before they turn one year old. A qualified dentist will be able to monitor a baby's teeth and advise on their dental development.

Symptoms of Teething

Babies react differently to teething. Some show few signs of discomfort and pain from teething while others will be cranky for weeks on end. It is important to observe your baby's reaction to teething so new symptoms won't be misattributed to teething when there is another cause. Common symptoms of teething are swollen and red gums, an increase in drooling, a desire to chew on hard objects and crankiness. Excess drooling can lead to face rashes and sensitive gums can lead to babies growing reluctant to suckle. Babies may also have difficulty sleeping because of their discomfort. Some babies experience diarrhoea and a slight fever while teething, but these could easily be symptoms of another more serious condition. If the baby experiences these symptoms contact a doctor right away.

Treatments for Teething

There are many effective treatments to help babies through the unpleasant symptoms of teething. Letting babies chew on safe and cool objects can help sooth their gums.

Gently drying away a baby's excess drool can help avoid face rashes.

Putting a damp and clean washcloth in a freezer for a few minutes can provide a cool and soothing object for a baby to chew on.

If the baby is eating solid foods then chilled apple sauce or chilled vegetable puree can ease a babies gums.

Teething rings made of firm rubber are good for providing babies something to chew on. Liquid-filled teething rings are not recommended since they are prone to breaking and leaking.

Massaging a babies gums with a clean finger can also help relieve them of stress.

If these treatments are ineffective then there are teething lotions and painkillers that can be used. Be sure to ask a doctor before using these treatments to make sure that the one most suitable for your baby is used.

Special Thanks to Kevin Terry

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