Teething is actually the time when the teeth of an infant begin to push out of the gums. Normally, the first teeth start appearing earliest around the sixth to eighth month of the baby's age, but sometimes it may even take as long as a year. Once the first tooth has emerged, another will come out of the gums in the subsequent month. However, this pattern may differ in different infants. It may take almost a year the complete first set of a baby's teeth to emerge, however, the teething process make around one to two years to be completed. There may be times when an infant may have one or two more teeth sticking out of the gums right at the time of his or her birth, but this is actually no reason for worry.
However, the manner in which the first teeth of a baby appear may differ from one infant to another, but usually, they central incisors or the two teeth in the middle of the bottom gums emerge ahead of others. Subsequently, the upper two middle teeth protrude out of the gums. This is followed by the bottom lateral incisors - the two teeth on both sides of the central incisors. Next to appear are the basic molars at the back of the jaw and this if followed by the emergence of the eye teeth - the sharp teeth at the top. In all, the infants usually have 20 milk teeth. And sometimes, the teething process may take as long as three years to be completed.
A child has his or her first permanent teeth when he or she is of about six or seven years of age. When the permanent teeth begin to come out, they replace the baby or milk teeth by pushing them out of their place. Happily enough, the emergence of the permanent teeth does not result in the kind of annoyance and uneasiness that the baby had experienced during the teething period. However, there is some pain and discomfort when the final set of molar teeth, also called ‘wisdom teeth', appear when an individual is in his or her late adolescence or early adulthood.
The teething phase of a baby includes a number of symptoms - painful and inflamed gums, tetchiness, slight rise in body temperature, sleeping problems, salivating or drooling, a keenness for biting on firm articles and occasionally, lack of craving for food. It has been found that several babies who are passing through the teething phase, they have an affinity for nasal clogging that may sometimes result in colds or contagions of the ear. In fact, the soreness, uneasiness and the swollen gums endured by a child during the teething phase is primarily owing to the fact that the crown of the emerging teeth applies stress against the tissues of the gum to come out of the membranes. Consequently, the cheeks of the baby may turn red and become sore and roughened owing to excessive slobbering. In addition, the baby will have a tendency to bite or chew hard objects as well as suck his or her fingers. It is important to not that a baby passing through the teething phase generally becomes easily aggravated or annoyed and more fidgety compared to any other normal child. They also endure sleeping disorder and may occasionally awake as frequently as once in every hour during the night.
While we have discussed the most common symptoms of teething, it may be mentioned that these may differ from one infant to another. It is basically owing to the different symptoms of teething, physicians as well as parents differ a lot regarding the indications of teething as well as the extent of pain endured by the child. Below, please find a list of different symptoms that a baby may experience during the teething phase. Generally, majority of the parents are of the opinion that a number of the symptoms or all of them mentioned below occurred during the time of their babies' teething phase. Nevertheless, in case your baby also experiences any or all of the teething symptoms mentioned below, it is essential that you consult a paediatrician in order to ensure that these symptoms are not a result of any other medical condition endured by your child.
- Irritability or tetchiness
- When the first incisor tooth of your baby tries to emerge to the surface splitting the gum tissue, it is likely to be a very painful and uncomfortable experience for your child making him fussier and more irritated. In fact, the pain as well as the uneasiness caused to the baby is most when the first milk tooth comes out and also later when the molars emerge. Actually, the molars have a comparatively larger size and hence the pain is more. However, in most instances, the babies gradually become familiarized with the commotions and uncomforting caused by teething and begin to consider them to be a part of their infant life. However, you will notice that your baby is very irritated or tetchy every time a new tooth comes out. However, it may be mentioned here that different children react to the teething symptoms in different manners.
- Drooling or slobbering
- When your baby has grown up to three or four months of age, it is likely that he or she has begun drooling or salivating unusually or more than earlier. In fact, it has been noticed that the teething process kindles drooling and this may be shoddier in some infants compared to others.
- Coughing or wheezing
- The secretion of surplus saliva during the teething period may sometimes result in the baby coughing or choking. However, such an occurrence is common and there is nothing to be concerned. As long as your baby is fit and fine and does not have any symptoms of cold or influenza or have a high body temperature, there is no cause to worry when the baby coughs or chokes occasionally.
- Chin rash
- If you find that your child has been salivating in excess during the teething phase, it is likely that the skin around the chin and the mouth may turn out to be aggravated causing chin rash. Chin rash normally occurs under the chin of the baby and sometimes spreads towards the neck. In order to put off chin rash, you need to tenderly wipe the baby's mouth and chin from time to time all over the day.
- Biting and nibbling
- As mentioned earlier, an infant who is teething will always try to bite and nibble anything, especially hard objects that he or she is able to find and put inside the mouth. This basically owing to the fact that to some extent the counter stress caused by biting hard objects lessens the pain and discomfort caused by the emerging tooth and the baby feels somewhat relieved, albeit temporarily.
- Rubbing cheeks and pulling ears
- When a child is teething, the gum pain may spread to the ears, especially when the molars are emerging at the back of the jaw. As a result, you may often notice that your baby is rubbing his or her cheeks or pulling the ears. While this is an indication of pain and discomfort to the child owing to teething, it is important to bear in mind that often when a child pulls his or her ears, it may also be a sign of an ear contagion.
- Diarrhea or watery feces
- Although most physicians, scientists and parents do not associate diarrhea with teething, several parents have confirmed that they have noticed somewhat loose bowel movements or diarrhea when their child is teething. However, findings of a recent study undertaken by the scientists at the Children's Hospital in Australia show that diarrhea is one of the most widespread indications of teething. In fact, there are many people who either agree or disagree with the findings of this recently conducted research at the Children's Hospital in Australia. Many physicians as well as researchers are of the view that diarrhea among teething babies is caused owing to the swallowing of excessive saliva, which in turn, makes the bowel movement loose. Hence, it is advisable that parents who find that their teething baby has diarrhea continuing for over two bowel movements ought to consult a physician to find the cause of the condition.
- Low temperature fever
- This is another condition that physicians usually do not expressly associate with teething in a child. However, some parents disagree with the physicians and assert that they have noticed slight rise in body temperature or a low-grade fever in their child during the teething period. Whether fever is a teething symptom or not, it is advisable that if parents of teething children notice that their baby has fever for over two days, they ought to consult a physician on this issue.
- Since the teething pain bothers the child all through the day as well as during the night, parents may often notice that their baby awakens more frequently during the night when the pain usually worsens. Many parents have reported that they have noticed their teething child waking up more often, especially at the time when the first set of baby teeth emerges and also later when the relatively larger molars come out at the back of the jaw.
- Cold symptoms (Runny nose)
- A number of parents have confirmed that their babies have endured symptoms of cold, such as runny nose, during their teething period. However, physicians are of the opinion that symptoms like runny nose, general cold and coughing are usually a result of the babies putting their hands in their mouth more frequently while teething. This is because of the pain and discomfort cause inside the mouth during teething. Nevertheless, it is always advisable to adopt preventive measures and consult a physician if you notice that your baby develops symptoms of cold during the teething phase.
Additional things you may do
There are numerous things that you may try and do with a view to alleviate the teething pain of a baby. While some of the things may prove to be effective, others may not. However, most parents say that it is always sensible to try out different things to ease the baby's discomfort and pain. The child may obtain relief from using teething rings as well as rubber teething toys that are filled with water and chilled. In addition, the fingers of the parents may also help to prove the counter stress that occasionally alleviates the teething pain providing relief to the child. You may also give your teething baby a cold bottle of water as this may also prove to be effective in alleviating the child's pain and discomfort. In case you find that sucking the cold water bottle is proving to be bothersome for your child, give the child a cup of cold water. Offering the child water is also useful to replace the body fluid loss caused by excessive salivation or diarrhea.
A number of parents have also confirmed that offering cold food to a teething baby also helps in alleviating the pain and discomfort endured by him or her. Compared to a chilled teething ring or rubber teething toys, providing the child with ice cold applesauce, pureed peaches or yogurt will not only be more tempting to the teething child, but they will also provide him or her with nourishments.
If you find that no effort by you is proving to be effective, you may also try the Infant Tylenol. However, it is essential to always consult your physician prior to giving your child the Infant Tylenol (acetaminophen). The physician will not only advise you whether the medication is suitable for your child, but will also suggest the right dosage if it is right for your baby. In addition, administering teething pain medications, such as Baby Orajel and others, to the gums may also help to alleviate the pain. However, there is a difference of opinion regarding the efficacy of medicines like Baby Orajel. While a number of parents confirm that Baby Orajel works very well, there are others who say that the medicine is not useful at all. It is also important to consult your physician before giving this type of non-prescription or over-the-counter medicines to your child to alleviate his or her teething pain.
In fact, new born babies experience so many different things and the teething process is one among them that will happen and then be over after some time. Hence, it is important to continue undertaking various measures to provide the child with relief. Your endeavour should continue till you find something that is effective in alleviating the teething child's pain and discomfort.
Here is a word of caution. Prior to trying any of the ideas discussed thus far or any additional kind of home therapy to alleviate your teething child's pain and discomfort, it is essential that you consult a paediatrician. In fact, before implementing any of the suggestions discussed here, you should necessarily go by the instructions of your paediatrician. This is important because the doctor treating your child is the best person to suggest what is right for the baby and what is not.
Supplements and herbs
A number of herbs and supplement too have been found to be effective in easing the discomfort and alleviating the pain experienced by a teething child. In fact, clove oil works as a normal anaesthesia and helps in getting relief from pain and discomfort. Clove oil has a pleasing flavour and acts rapidly to alleviate tender gums. Nevertheless, clove oil should be used with caution and in moderate amounts, since excessive use of this natural substance may result in formation of blisters. In order to ensure that clove oil is not very potent for your child, it may be diluted by mixing one drop of clove oil with one or two tablespoons of safflower oil. Rub the blend on the child's aching gums with your fingertip or using cotton gauze to provide relief from teething pain.
Even licorice root is effective in easing sore gums of a teething baby. Prepare a little paste with licorice root powder (about one-eighth teaspoon) by blending it with water and apply the paste tenderly on the child's sore gums. It will soon cause a soothing effect to the swollen gums.
Many parents also resort to homeopathic treatment to help ease their child's teething pain. There are several homeopathic medications that are useful in easing the discomfort and alleviating the pain of a teething baby. Homeopathic medicines may be administered in dosages of 12c or 30c at an interval of two hours. Alternately, these medications may be given at brief intervals, after about every half hour, depending on the symptoms of teething. Using homeopathic medicines usually offer quick, but enduring results. Especially 200c dosages of Calc. phos. or Calc. carb. may be given to the child sometimes (usually once a week or month when needed) to help in the metabolism of the bone and tissue in general.
Belladonna is given to a teething child when the symptoms are unexpected and abrupt. This homeopathic medication may be given when the child experiences excruciating pain and hot and arid mouth accompanied by a smouldering face and eyes. Other teething symptoms that may necessitate the use of this medicine may include hot head, cold feet, headaches that may force the child to bore his or her head into the pillow. Sometimes, the child may grind his or her teeth unable to bear the pain, have gumboil, high body temperature and seizure. In such situations, the child may even bite and hit others and be gripped with an extreme fear of darkness and ghosts. He or she may also shudder while sleeping and there may be a craving for lemons. In all such cases, use of Belladonna proves to be extremely helpful in alleviating the abrupt symptoms and providing relief to the teething child.
Note: It is important to note that the symptoms may worsen if the child is touched; there is any kind of noise, movement, shuddering, breeze or stretching. It is better if the blood pressure of children experiencing such symptoms remain stable.
- Calc. phos.
Calc. phos. is used when the teething baby has symptoms like continuous toothache, aching gums that are swollen or insipid in appearance. In addition, the medication is given when the child has seizures, but no fever while teething. It may be applied to the gums that have cold swelling or the child experiences delayed teething. Other symptoms when this medication may be used include a child having soft teeth that perish easily and rapidly, endures diarrhea, loss of body weight, suffers from undernourishment, is irritated, fussy and restive or has a weak and thin neck and inflamed glands.
Note: It may be noted that in such cases, the condition of the teething child deteriorated during the nights, when he or she has any warm thing in the mouth, is chewing something, and endures cold, mugginess and breeze.
- Calc. carb.
Calc. carb. is especially used when a child experiences a sluggish and problematic teething process, has inflamed gums and mouth, grind his or her gums, experiences intense pain while eating hot food or when there is a cold breeze, feels restive, cries at night, has colic and watery feces. This medication may also be used when the child experiences swollenness, nausea, gas, vomiting, clattering chest or when the baby is fat and soft. Other conditions that may necessitate the use of Calc. carb. in teething babies may include perspiration in the head and in the region around the neck, when the child feels chilly and develops cold and damp feet, excretes feces with a sour smell, perspires a lot, vomits, starts walking and talking comparatively late and perhaps craves for eggs and other things that he or she is unable to digest.
Note: It may be noted that these symptoms normally deteriorates when the child is in a damp and cold environment and drinks milk.
Staphysagria is given to a child when he or she experiences a problematic teething process and has gums that are insipid, very painful, inflamed, bleeding, smouldering and feeble. This medication may also be used when a child's new teeth perish comparatively early and they become black. It is also administered to children who are very susceptible mentally and physically, scowl and cringe whenever someone looks at them wryly or uses unkind words and shrieks when they are unable to bear the teething pain and are paunchy having an urge to stool frequently.
Note: These symptoms usually worsen after these children eat something, having cold drinks, and when they touch something or are angry. Their condition may improve when they relax or get some heat or warmth.
Chamomilla is usually administered to children enduring extreme teething pain accompanied by inflamed, swollen and painful gums. In such cases, the face of the child has redness on one side of the face and a scorching head. Other symptoms include sizzling perspiration, aching colon or bowels and watery feces having the color of green grass. The teething child may also become ill-tempered, whimpering, display fits of temper or tantrum and may want some object, but refuse them later. Such teething children are very susceptible to pain, minimum touch or incorrect words and desire to be carried.
Note: The condition of such children usually deteriorate between 9.00 p.m. and midnight, when they have something hot in the mouth, or are in a warm room. They are much better when they have something cold to eat, drink or nibble.
Podophyllum is given to children experiencing a problematic teething phase accompanied by tooth pain that makes the baby feel better when he or she bites the gums jointly. Such children also grind their gums while asleep, sweat while sleeping and have a cold face. Other symptoms endured by these teething children may include watery feces, often having surging stools with no pain, splashing bowels and scorching and flushing cheeks.
Note: These symptoms normally deteriorate during the early morning and in hot climatic conditions.
- From Harry Rakhraj
- My own experience shows Calc. Phos. is ideally suited for all teething problems in infants, irrespective of the type of symptoms exhibited.