One of your baby's milestones during their first year of life is the appearance of the first tooth, yet baby teething can be a scary time for parents. Often babies can become fussy or irritable as they experience tooth eruption. Soothing babies as they cope can be a challenging but manageable task.
When Does Teething Start?
The first tooth generally appears around the age of 6 months, although the general age range for the eruption of the first tooth is 3 to 14 months of age. Some children erupt one tooth at a time, while others have teeth that come in pairs or sets. The Singapore's Child provides a great tooth eruption chart, but not all children conform to this schedule of tooth development. The Ministry of Health and National Dental Care Singapore agree that a child should visit the dentist between 6 to 12 months of age. If a child does not have a tooth by age one, their parents can discuss tooth development in greater detail with the paediatrician or general dentist.
Signs My Baby Might Be Teething
Contrary to some old wives' tales or what "grandma says", there are no universal signs of teething. Fever, runny nose and diarrhoea have been mistakenly linked to teething by more than one parent. None of these symptoms have scientific evidence to support the claim. Symptoms of teething vary from child to child. Some babies may feel no pain, while others exhibit pain and tenderness that linger for several weeks, depending on the speed at which the tooth erupts.
A baby may exhibit one or more of the following signs that indicate teething:
- Profuse drooling
- Swollen gum tissue with or without a visible "lump"
- Repeated rubbing of eyes, cheeks or ears
- Refusing food or bottle when attempts are made to feed them
- Inability to sleep/restlessness during their usual nap time
- Consistent urge to chew on solid items
Upon reading this list, parents can observe that these signs may mean other things, but a combination of two or more of these symptoms more than likely indicates a teething baby.
How to Treat Teething Pain
Fortunately, many methods exist for teething treatment. Over-the-counter pain-relief medicines including ibuprofen or paracetamol may help to dull the pain. Numbing compounds containing topical benzocaine (similar to the gel used by dental professionals) are available, but some research indicates these should be used in great moderation as they may affect the baby's blood oxygen levels.
Other teething soothers include a refrigerated baby teething ring or using a clean finger to apply pressure on the gums may provide relief for the baby. Avoid giving your baby hard food to chew on, as it may pose a choking hazard. A warm bath and gentle rocking may also help to calm and relax the child.
Caring for the New Tooth
Using a clean piece of cloth to gently cleanse the baby's mouth is a good habit to get into, even before the first tooth arrives. Toothpaste is not as important in these early stages as the mechanical removal of bacteria. At the baby's first dental appointment, dental professionals will guide parents through the steps in caring for their baby's teeth and gums. Questions are always welcomed at this appointment because caring for a child's teeth is a partnered effort between parents and the dental professionals.