Teething is a process where an infant’s teeth erupt through the gums. The timing varies but it often begins at about 6 months. The two bottom front teeth (lower central incisors) are usually the first to appear, followed by the top two front teeth (upper central incisors).
It can lead to various symptoms including mild fussiness and discomfort. There may also be pain, crying, and irritability which can be quite an ordeal for both the baby and the parents. It usually takes three or four days with the symptoms decreasing once the tooth breaks through the gums. Here are some ways to soothe the baby’s sore gums.
Symptoms of teething
- Excessive drooling
- Chewing or gnawing on objects
- Irritability or crankiness
- Sore or tender gums
- Decreased appetite
- Slight increase in temperature – but no fever
Symptoms that it is not teething and you should see a doctor
- High fever
- Runny nose
- Extensive rash
- Inconsolable/excessive crying
Ways to soothe sore gums
1. Massage the baby’s gums
Use a clean finger or wet cloth to gently rub or massage the baby’s gums. After washing your hands, gently massage the gums in circular motions. Alternatively, freeze a clean, wet cloth rag and give it to the baby to chew on. It helps decrease inflammation along the gums.
2. Frozen or chilled foods
With supervision, allow your baby to gum down on some frozen bread or fruit. Hard foods like frozen carrots and chilled cucumber work great because babies can’t swallow them and suck on them is soothing. Serving them cold foods in general such as chilled applesauce or yoghurt also helps.
3. Cool metal
Take a regular metal teaspoon and chill it in the fridge. When it’s cool, gently rub the back of the spoon against the baby’s gums.
4. Chewing toys
Sometimes, teething will cause the baby’s gums to itch and harder plastic may provide relief. Chewing toys can also help the teeth break through the gums. Make sure that you purchase teething rings that are age-appropriate and have no small parts that can come off in the baby’s mouth. Also, make sure that the teething rings don’t freeze solid but are rather chilled allowing the baby to chew them more easily.
Soft silicone teething toys, shaped to reach the back teeth as well provide comfort for the front teeth and are a way to help your baby when teething through all the stages of their development.
5. Wipe the drool away
Excessive drooling is one of the main signs of teething. Help protect your baby’s clothes with soft bibs. Wipe the drool from your baby’s face and make sure to keep it clean and dry. Gently wipe often enough to prevent any rash or irritation but not so often that you create additional irritation.
6. Teething biscuits
You can offer teething biscuits starting at 8 to 12 months of age. Pay attention to gum hygiene wiping the gum area and teeth and when they get more teeth, introduce a toothbrush.
7. Lots of cuddles
Sometimes the biggest comfort for a teething baby can be cuddle time. Babywearing also helps. Babywearing is the action or practice of wearing or carrying a baby close against one’s body in a sling or similar carrier. Cue the cuddles and kisses.
8. Try an over-the-counter remedy
If your baby is especially cranky and uncomfortable, you may consider pain medication. Do consult your doctor just to get some guidance on what medication to opt for.
Caring for baby’s new teeth
Run a soft clean cloth over the baby’s gums twice a day, in the morning and evening. This cleansing keeps food debris from building up in the baby’s mouth.
When the teeth first appear, use a small soft-bristled toothbrush to clean their teeth twice a day.
Also, consider regular dental checkups. Childhood dental health sets the stage for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.