Babies can get their first tooth anywhere between 3-15 months, but most commonly babies cut their first tooth at around 4-9 months. Though baby may be having teething pains earlier, the teeth may not appear for a couple of months. At around 3 months you may notice that your baby is dribbling, this is due to teething and is part of the teething process.
Signs of teething
- Rosy cheeks
- Increased dribbling
- Tugging at ears and hair
- Chewing on everything
- Tender and swollen gums
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Poor appetite
- Loose frequent stools
- Sore and red bottom rash
- Teething should not cause a fever, if your baby does have a high temperature, consult your doctor.
What to do when your baby is teething
- Rub your baby’s sore gum’s gently with your finger
- Give your baby a teething ring, its best to get a soft rubber one or a plastic one with water in it – keep this in the fridge so that the coolness can help minimize baby’s teething pain when they put the teether in their mouth.
- Apply lemon juice to baby’s gums
- You can offer a hard and cold piece of fruit or vegetable.
- Avoid giving baby hard and sharp edged toys because the first thing they will do is put it in their mouth and hence damage their gums and teeth.
- There are various teething gels available at chemists.
What not to do when baby is teething
- Don’t dip baby’s dummy or teething rings in honey or any sweet foods, especially if your baby is under 12 months of age – this could lead to tooth decay.
- Do not suck your baby’s dummy and give it back to them – you will be transferring bacteria from your mouth to theirs.
- Do not use teething gels which contain any aspirin.
- If you are breastfeeding your baby, do not apply teething gels immediately before feeding as this may numb your baby’s tongue and your areola, hence making feeding difficult for you both.
- If you plan to use homeopathic granules, make sure you make the correct choice by buying one which is sugar-free. Sugar is a prime cause of tooth decay – you wouldn’t want to be filling your baby’s teeth with that, particularly if it isn’t their first tooth.
The importance of baby’s first tooth
All parents need to realize that their baby’s emerging teeth need to be looked after as carefully as their own teeth. Dental decay can result in babies losing teeth as early as 12 months. A condition which is known as “nursing caries” can result from allowing babies to suck on a bottle of milk or sweetened juice for long periods during the day, or last thing at night. If a bedtime bottle is needed, use plain boiled water instead.
Caring for your baby’s teeth
- Start cleaning your baby’s teeth as soon as they appear. Wipe gently with a clean damp cloth when they are having a bath.
- If your baby is older than six months, progress to brushing their teeth with a small soft bristle toothbrush specially designed for young babies with water. Brush their teeth twice a day. From around 18 months of age or when your baby has learnt to spit things out, use a pea-sized smear of low fluoride toothpaste.
- Hold you baby sitting against you facing the bathroom mirror so they can watch you brush your teeth – helpful in their learning.
- Let your baby play with their toothbrush while they watch you brush your own teeth.
- Limit the amount of sugary foods in baby’s diet.
- Avoid giving a bottle for long periods to your baby. Try to give some water in a cup after meals.
- Watch out for signs of tooth decay regularly and try visiting the dentist for your baby as well as yourself once in a while. If you notice whitish lines along the gum line or brown or yellow spots that don’t brush off, seek medical advice as soon as possible.