Kid's Dentist: Time For Teething

If babies could talk, they might have a few things to say about their troubles with teething: "Ooohh, do my gums ever hurt!" Since they can't, parents and caregivers must stay alert to signs of teething: drooling, fussiness, redness of gums and cheeks, sleeplessness, and maybe a loss of appetite. The first signs of teething may begin as early as three to four months of age. Baby teeth usually begin appearing between the ages of 6 to 16 months.

What Can Help My Child Feel More Comfortable While Teething?

Pay attention to the signs of teething and offer a big dose of TLC (tender loving care) and some relief of discomfort with some tried and true teething tips:

  • Gently massage the baby's gums with a clean, cool, damp gauze pad or with your clean finger.
  • Give your baby a cool non-plastic spoon to place into his or her mouth. Do not freeze the spoon.
  • Allow your baby to chew on a cooled teething ring or moistened washcloth. Note: For safety reasons, do not leave your baby unattended while chewing on these things. Avoid plastic teething rings because a piece may break off and the baby's mouth could be cut or choking could occur. Also, teething rings should not be placed in the freezer. The frozen ring may stick to the lip, tongue, or gums and tear the tissue.
  • If you apply over-the-counter topical medication, or if you use Acetaminophen (Tylenol or Tempra), follow the instructions on the label carefully and consult your doctor. Too much may cause liver damage. Over-the-counter medications should not be routinely given to an infant without a doctor's approval.

How Should I Care for My Baby's New Teeth?

As soon as your baby's teeth are visible, it's time to begin brushing! Baby teeth are susceptible to tooth decay that can lead to damage of permanent teeth. In the morning and before bedtime, brush teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and water only. Do not use toothpaste until your baby reaches two years of age to prevent accidental swallowing. After that, use just a dab (the size of a match-head) of fluoride toothpaste.

Be sure to schedule your child's first dental exam around the time of his or her first birthday (definitely no later than 16 months of age). Routine dental visits reveal any conditions that can be treated early as well as establish your child's dentist as a "healthy smile" partner.

By Brian J. Gray, DDS, MAGD, FICO

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Long Island Dental Excellence
100 N. Centre Ave. Suite 402
Rockville Centre, NY 11570
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