Isn’t your baby’s toothless grin just overflowing with cuteness? Better take a picture, before her teeth start to grow out! The loss of this toothless grin is an important developmental milestone, and though it may call for a tiny celebration, this process is often uncomfortable and painful for your little one.

Teething is often accompanied by a host of symptoms, which include increased crankiness, excessive drooling, loss of appetite, and a sudden, biting attraction to objects. No, they aren’t going to rip your sofa to shreds like your pet puppy, but the gum and jaw discomfort is enough to send them into an unpredictable mood.

Migration of their milk teeth through their gum tissue towards and through the gum line is admittedly, at least to us, a rather painful process. The general timeline for the appearance of teeth can be classified into months, and will vary from baby to baby.

Children have a total of 20 milk teeth – 10 on the top, and 10 filling out the bottom. In time, these 20 milk teeth will fall off, giving way to 32 permanent, adult teeth. Hold your horses, though, as that is a long time away, and the important task at hand will be to soothe the sobbing baby at your side.

Months                       Migrating Teeth

6                                   Lower Central Incisors

8                                   Upper Central Incisors

10                                 Lower and Upper Lateral Incisors

14                                 First Molars

18                                 Canines

24                                 Second Molars

Physical Methods - Apply Counter Pressure

This method works on the principle of Newton’s Third Law – For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction (You can thank your science teacher later). The emerging teeth creates an uncomfortable under-pressure that can be soothed by chewing onto a soft, springy object. At this point of time, your baby’s gums are likely to be red, swollen, and bruised – just terrible looking.

Give them something to chew on, such as a chilled teething ring, teething biscuits, or even your own sterilized finger. Your child may also take comfort in eating chilled baby food, such as purees, yoghurt or fruit straight out of the fridge. The cold temperatures help to soothe and numb the pain in their gums.

Take this opportunity to cuddle with your baby and play with her favorite toy. They would appreciate a parent’s touch, and sometimes this may be enough to get her mind off the pain.

Medical Methods – Mild Anesthetic Gels or Medicines

If all else fails, it may be time to whip out the drugs. Teething gels contain local anesthetic and antiseptic properties, which when rubbed on your baby’s sore gums, can help to ease the pain. These gels tend to get washed away by your baby’s saliva pretty quickly. Make sure you choose the sugar-free brands, since tooth decay is not desirable at this point of time.

Infant paracetamol or ibuprofen is another alternative; just make sure to consult a pediatrician and follow the recommended dosage.

We’d like to point out that some research has highlighted the possible dangers of using teething gel. For more information, please refer to this excellent resource. Always consult a pediatrician before resorting to medical methods.

Fortunately, the pain from teething tends to become more bearable as more teeth emerge. This may be due to your child being able to adapt to the discomfort of teething. That being said, good oral health and habits start from a young age, so start your baby’s brushing on infant toothpaste twice a day, after breakfast and before bedtime.

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