Symptoms of Teething
Is your baby chewing on everything, seemingly crankier with disrupted sleep and eating patterns, and drooling?
Do you think your baby has gum pain?
Teething usually begins between 4 and 6 months when the bottom front teeth (central incisors) start to pop out of the gum line.
As parents, we often blame every fuss and cry and disturbed sleep on teething troubles. The challenge is that we have no idea whether the baby is fussy from teething pain or whether their behavior stems from a developmental progression, pain from other sources like gas, oncoming illness, or many different causes. Many parents are sure their baby gets a teething fever before a tooth pops out.
The truth is, babies teethe for two years of their lives, as their many baby teeth rise through the gums. Though some babies are fussy right before their new tooth pops through the gums, other babies don’t seem bothered at all from the teething.
Many parents will say that the baby woke up like every other day with no signs, and lo and behold. A tooth had come through. And yet, for other teeth, the baby seemed very upset. It is unpredictable which teeth will bother your child.
Common Teething Symptoms
Common symptoms of teething include
- Sore and red gums
- Gum pain
- Flushed cheeks
- Rubbing ears, fingers in the ear
- Gnawing and chewing on fingers and objects
- Poor sleep (though this is uncommon)
- Decreased appetite
- Teething fever – many babies will have elevated temperatures when they are teething, though we don’t expect a temperature in the fever range of > 38 degrees Celcius or 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
Interestingly, we find that some babies will be bothered by individual teeth, but long before the tooth makes its appearance outside of the gums. The pressure, even within the gums, can cause discomfort sometimes months before the tooth emerges.
So it is your best guess whether your child’s current behavior or sleep challenges are directly related to teething or a myriad of other things happening in their young lives. Of course, not every teething baby reacts the same.
Not all Babies get a tooth by six months.
There is a ton of variability in teething. Do not be alarmed if your baby starts this process earlier or later than six months! Some babies don’t seem to notice their teeth coming through the gums, while others may seem more irritable for weeks before the tooth pops through!
Teething is believed to cause localized inflammation of the gums – anything that can help lower this inflammation may help.
Here are some tips for keeping your teething baby comfortable while teething:
- Gently massage the gums with one of your clean fingers.
- Teething rings and toys chilled in the refrigerator (NOT the freezer) can be helpful. However, do not leave your baby with teething rings on their own, as they can be choking hazards.
- Sucking on a mesh food holder with frozen fruit/veggies can provide a tasty and soothing treat on the teeth.
- Some babies like chewing on a partially frozen, clean, and wet washcloth.
- If the baby is uncomfortable, you can try acetaminophen or ibuprofen given the correct dose and frequency. These can be effective painkillers and provide relief to sore teeth.
- DO NOT use teething gels. Teething gels can be dangerous for babies to ingest.
- “Natural” or homeopathic remedies like Amber teething necklaces are NOT recommended.
Necklaces and other jewelry pose strangulation and choking risks. If you use a piece of jewelry with Amber, it is safer to put it on your baby’s wrist or ankle. Never leave the necklace on your baby unattended or allow your baby to wear it while sleeping! There are many cases of babies who choked or were strangled.
Don’t worry – every kid goes through this stage, and it will be over before you know it. And that beautiful, toothy smile is on its way!
Should breastfeeding stop when teething symptoms start?
It’s not necessary to stop breastfeeding your baby once they start teething. As they latch, babies’ tongues cover the bottom teeth and gums, preventing painful bites. So you can continue nursing as long as you and your baby want to. Please discuss with your health care provider or pediatrician if you are experiencing pain when feeding.
How do I stop my baby from chewing on everything?
When a baby is teething, they will chew on everything in sight. It’s their way to explore and make the pain go away!
Babies are more curious when experiencing a toothache, making them try new things like exploring with their mouth or chewing harder objects than usual.
Do teething tablets help?
You don’t have to rely on tablets for teething discomfort – there are plenty of other ways you can help your baby find relief. Please discuss with your doctor if you have concerns about your little one.