Teething can begin early as 2 months of age. The first tooth, however, does not usually appear in the mouth until about 5 – 7 months. Some babies sprout their first tooth with little or no problems, while others seem to experience much more discomfort.
Teething may cause the following symptoms:
- Increased drooling
- Red flushed cheeks or face
- Restless or decreased sleeping
- Not feeding as well
- Irritable and unsettled
- Bringing the hands to the mouth
- Mild rash around the mouth due to skin irritation from excessive drooling
- Rubbing the cheek or ear region
Teething has not been shown to cause the following:
- Fever (especially over 101 degrees)
- Diarrhea, runny nose, and cough
- Prolonged fussiness
- Rashes on the body
When to Seek Medical Care
Teething is a phase of development that all children will have to go through. Though it may occur at the same time as fevers, colds, diarrhea, rashes and prolonged fussiness, teething is not the cause of these symptoms. If your child is exhibiting these types of symptoms, it is likely associated with some other condition or illness. It is important to contact your doctor if these or other symptoms develop. Do not assume that they are just from the teething.
- Gently rubbing the gums with a clean finger, a cold spoon or having the child bite down on a clean cold washcloth.
- Cold objects may help reduce the inflammation. Be careful to avoid having prolonged contact of very cold objects on the gums. Do not put frozen spoons or other frozen metals in your baby’s mouth – they will stick to their tissue. Also, never put anything into a child’s mouth that might cause the child to choke. Solid silicone-based teething rings are recommended over liquid-filled products, which could leak and can’t be sterilized. You could try putting the teething ring in the fridge for a while before giving it to your baby.
- If the pain is causing feeding problems, a different shaped nipple or the use of a cup, may reduce discomfort and improve feeding.
Should I use teething gels?
The Canadian Dental Association recommends against the use of any kind of pain killer that can be rubbed on to our baby’s gums as they may swallow some of it.
In April 2011, the FDA issued a safety announcement that warns parents and caregivers to not give OTC gel or liquid benzocaine products, such as Anbesol and Orajel, to children younger than 2 years old unless directed to do so by a physician.
These medications can cause methemoglobinemia, a rare but potentially fatal condition in which the amount of oxygen carried through the bloodstream is greatly reduced.