Teething is a natural thing. That is when the little one starts to grow its first teeth – the milk teeth. The teeth emerge from the gums and usually come out in pairs. The earliest when the child begins to teeth is at about six months of age. While this is completely natural, it is still painful, irritating and stressful for the baby and the parents.
Even though the mother can usually tell what is wrong with her child, there are some universal symptoms that occur in every baby while teething. The first sign of teething in a baby is the swelling of the gums pointing to teeth emerging from the jaw. It is up to the parents to be careful, follow the baby’s progress and behavior and notice the changes.
Symptoms of teething
Teething causes itching of the gums, and the baby feels a need to gnaw or chew or bite. This is especially painful for the mom if she is breastfeeding. The baby doesn’t know the difference between the breast, a finger or a chewing toy. That is why it is advisable to get a proper baby chewing toy, as this is designed for that exact purpose.
Another symptom of teething is excessive drooling. While small babies are slowly learning to swallow their saliva when teething occurs the irritation of the gums causes saliva production as it lubricates the gums, and thus drooling baby. There is no remedy or advice against excessive drooling as this is a natural process and such that the small baby is certainly not able to control.
The teething process is also related to increased irritability of the baby. The baby can wake up during sleep as it becomes nervous and irritated due to teething pains.
Scratching of the ears
While this may also be an indication of an ear infection, the scratching, pulling and touching of the ears can be caused by teething. The jaws are directly related to the ears, and the pain from the emerging teeth can be felt in the ears resulting in ear scratching.
This is a common symptom of teething. Elevated body temperature can also be a symptom of infection. During the last stage of the teeth emerging through the gums, a slightly elevated body temperature can occur.
How to manage the teething pain?
There are several ways in which the parent can help a teething baby. The mom should check the gums of the baby for swelling and identify that indeed the baby is teething. Next, the baby should not be allowed to chew on its own or someone else’s fingers as this can cause more pain.
The soft plastic chewing toys are very helpful during the teething as the chewing action helps the pain and also helps massage and break the gum tissue and facilitate the growth of the teeth.
An effective way to momentarily alleviate the teething pain is to use a wet cloth put in a freezer for a short time, and then to use this to massage the baby’s gums. The cold cloth numbs the swollen and irritated gums and helps relieve the pain. This needs to be done carefully as to avoid freezing the gums and causing frost damage to the baby’s mouth.
A sure way to help a teething baby is to cuddle more often during this period, as the soothing touch can help the baby become more comfortable and take its mind off the pain.
If a severe pain persists for a prolonged period of time, then as a last measure a pain relief medication can be given. There are child-safe pain relief treatments like lidocaine or ibuprofen, and even some oral anesthetics, but these should be given very, very carefully and always in recommended doses, never in excess.
There are some folk remedies that should be avoided – DO NOT rub brandy (or any type of alcohol) on a teething baby’s gums, as any type of alcohol is harmful to the fragile baby’s body. If the pain during teething persists the baby should be taken to a pediatrician. The whole teething process can last up to three years and the pain and discomfort become easier to manage both by the child and the parents.