The arrival of a baby’s first tooth is a significant milestone, but the teething journey can be a challenging experience for both infants and parents alike. In this guide, we’ll delve into the nuances of teething. We’ll provide insights, tips, and practical advice to help parents navigate this developmental phase with confidence.

At Children’s Dentistry of Charlottesville, we understand the importance of supporting parents through every stage of their child’s oral health journey.

Understanding the teething process

What is teething?

Teething is a natural developmental process that marks the emergence of a baby’s primary teeth through the gums. This typically begins around six months of age, although the timing can vary widely among infants.

The eruption process continues until around the age of three when most children have a full set of primary teeth. Each child is unique, so while some might experience teething with minimal fuss, others may find it a more challenging phase.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Irritability: Teething discomfort can lead to increased fussiness and irritability in babies. Their gums may feel sore as the teeth begin to break through.
  • Drooling: Excessive drooling is a common teething symptom. Babies may drool more as new teeth emerge.
  • Gum Swelling and Redness: The gums around the erupting tooth may appear swollen and red. This is a natural response to the pressure exerted by the emerging tooth.
  • Chewing and Biting: Babies may instinctively bite or chew on objects to alleviate gum discomfort. Providing safe items for them to chew on can help soothe their gums.
  • Changes in Sleeping Patterns: Discomfort from teething can affect a baby’s sleep. Changes in sleeping patterns, such as more frequent waking, may occur during this time.

Tips for easing teething discomfort

1. Gentle gum massage:

Use a clean finger or a soft, damp cloth to gently massage the baby’s gums. The gentle pressure can provide relief and soothe irritation. Be careful though, you don’t want to get bit!

2. Chilled teething toys:

Provide safe, chilled teething toys for your baby to gnaw on. The cold sensation can numb the gums and offer relief to sore areas.

3. Teething rings:

Opt for BPA-free teething rings designed to be chilled. The pressure from biting down on the ring can help alleviate discomfort.

4. Teething biscuits:

For older babies who have started on solid foods, introduce teething biscuits. These provide a satisfying texture for chewing and can soothe sore gums.

5. Over-the-counter teething gels:

Consult with your pediatrician before using teething gels. If recommended, apply a small amount on the gums for temporary relief from discomfort.

6. Comforting foods:

Offer chilled, soft foods like yogurt or applesauce to provide relief and meet nutritional needs. The cool temperature can be soothing for tender gums.

Maintaining oral hygiene during teething:

Continue regular cleaning

Despite teething discomfort, maintain your baby’s oral hygiene routine. Gently clean their gums with a soft cloth or infant toothbrush to remove any bacteria or residue.

Introduce a toothbrush

As teeth emerge, introduce a soft-bristled toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste suitable for their age. This helps establish good oral hygiene habits early on.

Monitor for changes

Watch for changes in the appearance of emerging teeth. If you notice any discoloration, irregularities, or persistent swelling, consult your dentist for advice.

When to consult a dentist:

Persistent discomfort

If teething symptoms persist and become severe, it’s advisable to consult your child’s dentist. They can assess the situation and guide additional measures.

Fever or diarrhea

Teething should not cause a fever or diarrhea. If your baby develops these symptoms, consult with your healthcare provider to rule out other potential causes.

Unusual rash

A rash around the mouth or chin may indicate a sensitivity to drool. While generally harmless, if it persists or worsens, consult a healthcare professional for advice.

Let’s work to help you and your child through the teething process

Navigating the teething phase requires patience, understanding, and proactive care. By recognizing the signs of teething, implementing soothing strategies, and maintaining good oral hygiene practices, parents can help their babies transition through this developmental milestone more comfortably.

At Children’s Dentistry of Charlottesville, we’re here to support parents in every aspect of their child’s oral health journey. If you have concerns about your child’s teething or oral health, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with our children’s dental team. Together, let’s ensure that your child’s smile blossoms with health and happiness at every stage of their development.