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How Children Grow
The teething process usually starts at 6 months but many babies show signs of discomfort at 3-4 months. Most infants will have a full set of milk (or deciduous) teeth at 3 years.
The process of teething and the time of eruption is different in every child. Some babies are born with a few teeth, or they can erupt as early as 3 months and some babies can reach their first birthday before a tooth is seen.
The general order is that the lower two central incisors appear first followed by the upper two central incisors. Now the baby has a beautiful smile and starts to look very different.
The four lateral incisors follow, again usually lower first followed by upper. Next come the four first molars (the flat grinding teeth) followed by the canines (the pointed eye teeth).
The second molars (further back) are the last set of four to appear.
Signs of teething
The most common signs of teething may include one, or all of the following:
- pain, obvious discomfort, irritability
- hard white patches visible under the gums
- swollen, reddened gums when tooth is closer to breaking through
- excessive drooling
- inflamed red cheek
- mild cough – caused by excessive drool
- nappy rash
- loss of appetite
When a baby begins to teethe, don’t be surprised if you notice a change in general behaviour that is difficult to account for. Some common behaviour changes are:
- biting down on anything, putting everything they can into the mouth
- general irritability and bad humour
- refusing food, changing what they prefer to eat or amounts
- crying more than usual, for no obvious reason
- trouble sleeping, waking suddenly, difficult to settle
Take care that there is not another reason for any symptom your baby has. Many complaints are sometimes blamed on teething, but make careful observation to establish what is going on. If in doubt, consult your health care provider.
What can you do to help your baby with teething?
- Comfort and hugs – obvious and necessary!
- Cooled or frozen fruit or vegetable sticks to chew (after weaning and always under supervision). Make them as large as possible.
- A cooled or frozen clean wet cloth
- Gum massage – pressing down on the site of the emerging tooth with a clean finger or an ice cube, if you can figure out where the trouble is. This may be too sore for your infant but some relax and feel relief.
- Breast Feeding – breast milk contains a natural pain reliever for babies.
- Homeopathy- there are a number of different homeopathic remedies that can help with different symptoms.
- Teething Rings – there are a myriad of different kinds available. They often use anything at hand as a self designated teething aid!
- Teething brushes – first step tooth brushes with short firm rubber ‘bristles’ designed to both rub gums and clean teeth.
- Teething gels – to rub on the site of pain. The most well known brand is Bonjela. Most need to be rubbed in well to help as they contain a mild local anaesthetic to dull the pain.