Baby’s first tooth can be a very exciting phase for new parents but can also be a bit of a tough one. Teething can occasionally be associated with fussiness, sleepless nights and crying.
Teething is the eruption of the primary aka “baby teeth” from the gums. The start of teething can vary in age, typically between 6 months old to 13 months old. Around 2-3 months of age, babies may start to drool and gnaw on their hands (and everything else in their sight!) but that is normal for age and not a sign of teething.
Typically, the first to erupt are the lower front teeth (the lower central incisors), followed by the top front teeth, though some babies can break from the normal pattern. By the time your child is 3 years old, they most likely will have all of their primary teeth.
When your baby’s gums become swollen and teeth begin to erupt, it can cause some fussiness for baby and sleepless nights for Mom and Dad. There are several things you can do to help ease some of your baby’s discomfort. Babies love to chew on things, including your fingers. Massaging their gums with clean fingers can help ease their pain along with cold solid teething toys and a cold washcloth (pop the washcloth in the freezer for long lasting comfort!). Be wary of using food as chunks can break off and babies can choke on the pieces. If your baby is at a stage that they are eating, offer them a piece of frozen banana or apple inside a mesh or silicone feeder.
As you peruse up and down the baby aisle for teething remedies, steer clear of some of the teething products as they can be dangerous. Those include many of the teething tablets, teething gels with benzocaine, and amber teething necklaces. Many teething tablets have been pulled off the shelves because they contained varying amounts of belladonna, a plant poison that has often been used as a painkiller that can be toxic. Teething gels contain benzocaine, which is a topical numbing agent that can cause methemoglobinemia, a condition that can cause death. Amber teething necklaces have become popular over the years. The amber is from the Baltic region and contains succinic acid, which is thought to absorb through your baby’s skin and alleviate pain. However, there is no research showing this works and these necklaces pose a significant choking and strangulation risk to your baby.
If you have tried all of your go-to methods for making your baby more comfortable with teething and she is still very fussy, talk to your Pediatrician about the proper weight-based dosing for Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Motrin). Ibuprofen is given only after you baby is 6 months old.
That being said, many babies will erupt teeth without any pain or fussiness at all. Once those teeth break through, start brushing their teeth with a tiny rice grain size of fluoride toothpaste twice a day. We recommend finding a pediatric dentist and making their first dental appointment at least by 1 year of age.
Getting that first tooth is an exciting milestone in your baby’s life, and hopefully these tips can help you manage some of the not-so-exciting nights that accompany it!