By Melissa Lahti, March 04, 2008
Unfortunately, we all need teeth. That is why as babies we have to go through this excruciating pain to get them. Which I believe is why God gives us this task at a time in our life when we can handle it best and we won’t remember all the pain. Someone once said to me that they think if an adult had to go through the pain of teething they wouldn’t be able to handle it. With that said take a look at our little ones and think about what amazing, tough, little troopers they are. Since it’s a fact of life that we have to deal with, as parents, we have to do our job and help them through this as much as we can. How do we do that?
Babies start developing tooth buds in the womb which typically start to poke through at around six months of life. Although, it is possible that they will show up as early as three months or as late as one year. In very rare cases a baby can be born with a tooth. This tooth will probably be loose and should be removed by a doctor since it could pose as a choking hazard.
The first teeth that appear are usually the bottom middle two called the central incisors. One to two months later they are followed by the four front upper teeth and about one month later the lower lateral incisors. Next to follow are the first molars and then the eye teeth which are the sharp ones in the front of the mouth. Children usually have all twenty of their primary teeth by the age of three. If your child’s teeth appear to be coming in crooked there is no cause for concern they should straighten out on their own. Around the age of six your child should start to lose their primary teeth which will be replaced by their permanent teeth.
While teething, your baby will be drooling excessively. Make sure you keep this wiped up as much as possible since it will cause a rash on the face and neck area. Their gums are going to be swollen and extra sensitive. Because of this they may not want to eat much. They also will get an urge to bite and want to chew on everything they can get their little mouths on. With the pain they are experiencing they may have trouble sleeping and will experience crying episodes and general crankiness.
Many parents believe, while some doctors would like to argue, that teething also causes a low grade fever, loose stools and a diaper rash. The loose stools and diaper rash are said to be caused by a chemical present in the saliva that helps break down the gums. As a mother that has been through the process of numerous new teeth I would have to say that I believe these things defiantly go along with teething. Although, some doctors believe these symptoms are caused by another problem. If you have any doubt or your baby’s fever goes above 101 then you should call your doctor.
Since your baby really wants to chew on something it’s a good idea to give them something safe to chew on. You can take a clean, wet cloth and place it in the freezer for about thirty minutes. You can give them a small, cool spoon to chew on. Or you can buy a teething ring from the store. If you place the teething ring in the freezer be sure to take it out before it becomes rock solid to avoid hurting the baby. As far as over the counter solutions you can use baby orajel, which is a gel substance you rub on the gums and it numbs them. Or you can give acetaminophen (Motrin works well for the swelling) to relieve pain and fever. Never give anyone under the age of twenty aspirin!
Even though baby teeth fall out, it is still important to take care of them from the beginning. You can brush the first teeth with water. Babies really shouldn’t have toothpaste until they are big enough to spit it out, usually around age two. You can use a damp cloth or a baby toothbrush. When your child starts using toothpaste you only want to use a pea sized amount and make sure they try not to swallow it. If they happen to swallow a tiny bit it won’t hurt them. You can begin to floss for them as soon as their teeth begin to touch. You really should not give a baby a bottle containing anything with sugar. (juice, pop, ect…) The sugar gets between the teeth and nipple and sits there and can rot the teeth. Also for the same reason it is not a good idea to let your baby go to bed with a bottle.
If after sixteen months your baby still has no teeth or has teeth missing where you think there should be some it would be a good idea to contact your doctor or dentist. Most dentists would like to start seeing your child around the age of one. Remember you know your child better then anyone and if you have a feeling that something is not right, never hesitate to call the doctor. It’s always better to be safe then sorry.