There are few things that are as upsetting as your child suffering from teething pains. As most parents know, babies' teeth erupt in a particular order, starting with the upper and lower front teeth. Just when you think it's over, your toddler starts to develop molars. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, these appear between 11 and 18 months for first molars and 20 to 30 months for second molars. This is often a painful experience, not only because the teeth are bigger than incisors and have double edges, but because the child is older and more aware of the discomfort.
Symptoms of Toddler Teething
Erupting molars are a primary component of the "terrible twos," when toddler tantrums are often a daily occurrence. Apart from crankiness, there are several other symptoms of teething that you can expect to see:
- A slight fever, typically around 99 degrees Fahrenheit
- Sore, swollen gums, particularly in the back of the mouth
- Excess production of saliva, which can cause drooling and diarrhea if swallowed
- Pulling or rubbing ears or cheeks to relieve the ache in the shared nerve pathways
- Difficulty sleeping through the night as a result of painful gums
It's easy to mistake a fever and diarrhea for a tummy bug, so make it a point to check your child's gums before arriving at a conclusion. If a fever runs high, or the symptoms last longer than two or three days at a time, it's best to see a doctor to rule out more serious conditions.
Teething Tools and Aids
Dig out the tools and aids you used during the first round of teething pains, sterilize them and put them back to work. Look for teething rings that are big enough to reach to the back of the mouth easily, or search online for teethers in interesting shapes and colors that will be as entertaining as they are soothing.
A clean, wet washcloth can be helpful for your child to chew on, and you can also massage the gums with a clean finger dipped in chilled water. Anything cool provides extra comfort, so try refrigerating the teething aids for added relief. Don't freeze them, though — according to the Mayo Clinic, this could result in the hard surfaces bruising the child's gums.
Maintaining Oral Hygiene
Help your child maintain a good oral hygiene routine using products such as Colgate Trolls Mild Bubble Fruit toothpaste. It's a mild, bubble fruit-flavored toothpaste providing clinically proven cavity and enamel protection that strengthens and protects developing teeth. It is also specially designed for kids ages two and up.
Providing Pain Relief
Some over-the-counter pain relievers are specially formulated for young children, but it's still best to use these sparingly. Most children only need pain relievers at night to ensure that everyone can get some sleep. You can also try topical anesthetic gels, which help numb the gums temporarily. These should be used with caution to avoid ingestion. Bypass gels containing benzocaine for kids younger than two years, as some have been associated with negative side effects in young children.
Once toddlers have all of their baby teeth, you'll know the teething pains are over and you can breathe a sigh of relief. Until then, you'll need a range of teething aids to use — and the patience to match.