What to Expect and How to Cope with a Teething Baby

There’s nothing cuter than seeing a baby with a new tooth, but teething can be uncomfortable for a child that isn’t old enough to understand why their mouth hurts. Seeing your baby in pain is a less than pleasant experience for parents, even though it is a very natural process. Knowing when teething starts, what to expect, and how to cope with it can be helpful.

When to Babies Begin Teething?

A baby can begin teething when they are just a few months old, and usually, they will get their first tooth around six months, but this does vary tremendously so don’t worry if your child gets their first teeth a little bit sooner or later. Usually, the first two teeth to erupt are the middle teeth, and the molars are the last to come through. Generally, it takes a couple of years for all the baby teeth to erupt fully but don’t worry as your baby won’t be continuously teething during this time!

What to Expect While They Are Teething

Every baby is different, but your child will most likely be a bit fussier than normal and may tend to cry more frequently. As their teeth are erupting through the gums, it’s normal for some pain to occur, but if their discomfort seems excessive or extends beyond a week or two, make an appointment for them to see their pediatric dentist or their pediatrician. While a baby is teething, they shouldn’t seem ill, and they shouldn’t have a fever. 

Signs that your baby is teething include increased irritability, and they will most likely want to put everything in their mouth, even more so than usual! They may drool more frequently, and if you take a look at their gums, they could look puffy. Your kid might want to bite on things to try and relieve the discomfort, and you may notice they rub their face or pull their ears for the same reason. Not surprisingly, as their mouth will feel uncomfortable, their appetite could decrease.

Once you realize your baby is teething there are several things you can do to help them and to soothe this discomfort.

Massaging Their Gums

One of the first signs of teething is noticing your baby is biting down on things, because pressure often helps to relieve the discomfort of teething. You might find it helpful to massage their tender gums with a clean finger gently and often this can be quite effective.

Use a Cold Washcloth or Soft Teething Toy

Washcloths can be kept in the fridge or even frozen, so they are ready for use whenever your baby needs one. Softer teething toys can usually be safely left with your baby, but do check first, and are machine washable.

Hard Teething Toys

While some babies may prefer a softer teething toy, others might need something more than a soft washcloth or toy because they find the additional pressure soothing. When choosing a harder teething toy, make sure you buy something that is clean and safe and is most likely made from toxin-free plastic, rubber, or silicon. You might need to experiment with a few different teething toys to see which your baby prefers, but it’s well worth spending a bit of time doing so because teething can be quite an extended process!

Using Chilled Food

If your baby doesn’t have much of an appetite while teething, cold foods may help soothe their gums. Just make sure you choose foods that aren’t heavily processed, or which contain lots of sugar. Also, choose foods that are age-appropriate, for example, if your baby is already eating solid foods, they might prefer something like a frozen banana. Otherwise, if you are breastfeeding, your baby might like ice cubes made from breastmilk which can be crushed up and placed in a square of muslin or cheesecloth for them to chew on.

Caring for Baby Teeth

Once your baby does get their first tooth, it’s a signal for you to schedule their very first dental appointment with a pediatric dentist. Think this seems too young? It’s the perfect age for a child to begin regular preventative dental care and at this age, hopefully, your kid is curious about all new experiences and new environments. 

Your baby’s first dental visit is an excellent opportunity for them to become accustomed to all the sights, sounds, and smells in a dental office in a way that is very non-threatening. Their first dental visit is extremely gentle and is merely a very quick examination while they sit on your lap. One of the main reasons for this first visit is so you can ask any questions you have about their dental care at home.

As soon as they get their very first teeth, you need to begin carefully cleaning them. Ideally, it is best to start cleaning your baby’s gums right from the very start and after each feeding using a damp washcloth or a piece of damp gauze. This gets your baby accustomed to the sensation of having their mouth cleaned, so it feels less strange when you switch to using a baby toothbrush. 

Your child’s dentist can show you exactly how to clean their teeth, demonstrating the proper techniques to use. They can also advise you on the best baby toothbrush, and whether it’s necessary to use any toothpaste. Quite often, pediatric dentists recommend non-fluoridated toothpaste when a child is very young and still lacks the ability to spit out the excess.

When your child’s teeth begin to contact each other, you will need to start to floss them. Again, this is another area where your pediatric dentist can help you. Knowing the proper techniques for flossing makes it far easier for everyone.

Usually, young children need to see a dentist every six months for regular checkups and cleanings. It’s a simple routine of preventative dental care that will bring big rewards. Looking after your child’s baby teeth ensures they aren’t lost too soon, helping the adult teeth to develop correctly. Your child’s dentist can keep a close eye on the development of your child’s jaws and teeth, so any potential problems are detected and treated sooner. 

With good ongoing professional dental care and by maintaining an excellent oral hygiene routine at home, the chances are that your kid can grow up enjoying a healthy smile and all the benefits it brings.