Babies begin to show signs of their first teeth within a few months after birth, and this can be a painful and uncomfortable time for them. As they teethe, babies’ gums will be sore and tender, which is completely natural. Some ways to calm your baby during this time is by rubbing the sore gums gently with a wet cloth or giving them a teething ring. Oral health problems can arise when a baby starts to teethe, especially baby bottle tooth decay. Find out what you can do to ease your baby’s transition through teething and how you can prevent baby bottle tooth decay with this guide!
Do’s and Don’ts of Teething
However, you want to make sure all of your methods are safe when it comes to what your infant is sucking or chewing on. The teeth will start to come in for most infants between 3 and 6 months, generally starting with the front teeth moving on towards the back of the mouth. The teeth move around in the gums, going up and down, and causing discomfort until they finally pop through the top. This painful time can lead to lots of crying and fussiness, not to mention a runny nose, excessive drooling, fevers, irritability and your child needing to be held most of the time.
However, these teething days will pass, and you can make it a lot easier on your infant with these do’s and dont’s of teething:
- DO give your baby teething toys, which are labeled on packages for safe teething. Chewing on these toys will help get the teeth to pop through the gums faster. Some toys can be gel-like so they can be cooled in the fridge to help soothe teething gums even better.
- Use baby Tylenol or similar pain-relief medication, IF your infant is old enough. Check medicine labels and ask your doctor if your infant is under the recommended age for use. Always follow package instructions for dosage.
- DON’T use baby Orajel or similar products unless your infant is old enough. This can be a very effective product for numbing teething gums, but is not safe for very small infants. Always ask a medical professional about these numbing products before use!
- DO rub your baby’s gums with a gentle, wet rag. Massaging the gums can help soothe pain and discomfort in teething babes.
- DO wet a washcloth, get it cold in the fridge and let teething babies chew on it. Always monitor the chewing and never leave the infant alone. The cold cloth can help soothe painful gums.
Pacifiers: What to Know
Sometimes, infants simply need comfort. Some babies will take a pacifier to soothe them, and others won’t want anything in their mouth. Do what works for your infant. If they take a pacifier and it works, use it when it’s needed. However, you want to make sure that an infant doesn’t become dependent on a pacifier.
Babies have a very powerful sucking reflex, which allows them to breastfeed and suck milk out of a bottle so fast. Studies show that as an infant grows into a toddler and older child, that those muscles change over time, and that reflex isn’t quite as powerful. Sucking on a bottle may be easy for an infant, whereas an older child or adult might find it difficult if they try. Because of the intense sucking power of an infant, the teeth can actually shift position and turn inward if a pacifier is constantly in an infant’s mouth. That can altar a child’s bite and alignment, which can grow worse as they grow, leading to child orthodontics. Use a pacifier if it helps soothe your teething infant, but use it only when it is needed.
The Importance of Early, Regular Dental Visits
It can be hard to keep up with every point of advice when it comes to a teething infant, infant oral care, dental visits and more. That’s why dentists exist! They can give you the right advice and proper care for your child’s teeth as they grow from infancy into adulthood. To stay current on what your infant’s oral health should look like, you want to take them to a family or pediatric dentist, so that they are getting oral care that is specific for their age and needs.
The American Dental Association recommends that every child see a dentist within the first 6 months of getting their first baby tooth. After that time, an infant should continue to see the dentist biannually (meaning every 6 months) for routine dental exams and cleanings. At home, infants should have their gums brushed with an actual gum brush. This is a finger brush that you can place over your finger and gently massage their gums for teething. It is also effective at brushing away sugars left over from a feeding.
Use a gum brush when the teeth are starting to pop through, then switch over to an infant toothbrush. At that point, brush the infant’s teeth at least twice a day (or after every feeding/meal time) with a rice-sized amount of infant toothpaste (not adult toothpaste, which can be harsh on baby teeth).
Benefits of Early Dental Care
Early dental visits and at-home toothbrushing brings benefits to your child such as:
- They can avoid tooth decay that can lead to premature tooth loss.
- Toddlers can become familiar with dental visits, leading to less dental phobia as they grow.
- The baby teeth can come in correctly, setting a patient up for great oral health for life.
- Children learn early how to properly take care of their oral health.
- Bite and alignment issues can be caught early, preventing extensive procedures later on.
Whether you have a teething infant, you have a toddler that needs a dental visit or you have dental question, we are always here to help you! Call Dr. Evanson’s office today at (720) 409-0008 for your free consultation!