The tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth!
Teething can be hell! But how do you know if your baby is teething? It's a tough one! I have a friend who says, if they are out of character or fussy, and you cannot think of anything else, then 'its teething!'.
Generally speaking if your baby is fussing and squirming during feeding, is drooling excessively or has bad nappy rash, the chances are your baby may be teething. Some other symptoms some believe are associated with teething include a runny nose and a cough! The medical profession are split on teething as an issue, some feel it's very real and uncomfortable for babies, others believe it's a lot of fuss over nothing! Having had two children myself, I have to say I believe there is definitely something in it! Although some babies do seem more bothered than others!
So how do you know for certain the change in your babies behaviour is down to teething? Why not check out out 'The tooth of it' section!
Once you figure out teething is the cause of your baby's discomfort, the next step is to try and help the little nipper. A baby's teething discomfort can start well before teeth even come through. Every baby is born with a set of 20 teeth hidden beneath the gums. Just before they erupt you should be able to feel the indentations of the teeth by running your finger along your baby's gums. The first set of teeth, called the milk teeth (also called baby teeth or deciduous teeth), tend to erupt at about six months, although they can appear earlier (and very rarely, a child is born with a tooth already in place). Sometimes teeth are a bit slower to emerge - anything up to a year may be normal. Want to know more about the process? Look at 'the Science bit'!
The first teeth to erupt are usually the front four teeth (the incisors), typically the bottom teeth followed by the top. The baby's back teeth, called the first molars, usually appear when the child is between thirteen and nineteen months old. The first molars sit just behind the canine teeth. At around sixteen to twenty-two months of age, the canine teeth emerge. Finally, the second molars, at the back of the mouth erupt around about the age of two. It's interesting that we refer to teething as 'cutting a tooth', when in fact the emergence of babies' teeth doesn't actually cut through the flesh. Instead, chemical signals between the cells in the gums cause some cells to selectively die and separate, allowing the teeth to push through. Teething Diagram.
The list of teething remedies is extensive but in my view the most effective is to take your baby's mind off the discomfort. Giving your baby lots of cuddles and playing often works. However that's not a tactic you can or want to employ in the middle of the night! You can also massage your baby's gums, using a wet finger or soothing gels and other products from the chemist: experts caution against the excessive use of teething gels as they contain benzocaine - there is a risk of allergic reaction.
Teething rings are also very effective - especially when first placed in a fridge and cooled. And generally chomping and chewing on things helps too, you'll often see them sticking a whole fist in their mouth or any other object they can find and biting down on it.
You can use natural, old-fashioned solutions, such as bagels, bread or even vegetables. There are many natural and homeopathic teething remedies you could try, but these should only be used in conjunction with expert medical advice. Homeopathic teething remedies include: Apis mellifica (meaning whole bee) - used to ease swollen gums before and after the eruption of teeth; Kreosotum can ease a child's stress when she has irritating saliva and severe discomfort during teething. Kreosotum is very beneficial if a baby's teeth succumb to decay soon after erupting from the gums; Pulsatilla is especially good for teething babies who are nervous, clingy, or tearful. There are more homeopathic teething remedies you can try. What teething remedy is best depends on you and your baby. Some babies can be distracted from the discomfort of teething, whereas some can suffer much discomfort. If one teething remedy doesn't work, then try another. If your child's discomfort is excessive you should talk to your doctor about further information and advice on baby teething. Or why not look at our blog we have a teething tips post.
Teething is not a serious problem. However rarely you can get teething blisters and teeth grinding. It's something we all go through it and it's like a right of passage, but it is only as a parent you remember the horrors!