Written by Doctor G

Teething help?

This is a post I did this week for a mom at a great blog called The Adventures of J-Man and MillerBug. She is hosting some great giveaways!

Miller recently cut his first tooth. The weeks leading up to this experience have been miserable. Crying, chewing on everything and just general discomfort have surrounded him recently. So I began to think what do I do? When you start to research teething on the Internet you hear everything from natural remedies to keeping them on Tylenol to manage the pain. In the middle of my confusion it hit me that there must be many other mothers out there who are just as confused.

Jeanette, from J-Man and Miller Bug

WHY is He Crying?

Just when you’ve figured out most of your baby’s cues (hungry cry, sleepy cry, bored, scared…) he starts crying and you can’t find a reason! If it’s not 2am and you have had enough sleep to be coherent, or have a helpful friend or relative on the phone, it may occur to someone that he could be teething.

How do I know if it’s teething?
The quickest way to tell is to check. Wash your hands and then (carefully!) use the pad of one of your fingers to rub with some pressure along the biting surface of his gums. If one area is swollen or has a sharp point below the surface, or if he yells, he is probably teething. Teeth only cause pain for at most a day or two before breaking through, so you should be able to feel the tooth bud below the surface.
How old is he? Most kids start to get their first teeth between 6 and 10 months of age. Other factors can cause early or late tooth eruption, no need for an emergency visit to your family doctor, but mention it when you do go for the next well child check. Teeth usually come in pairs, the second (same tooth on the other side) often arriving within a day or two of the first.
What about other symptoms? Parents sometimes attribute a wide variety of problems to teething, including diarrhea, fever and drooling. Many parents note a low grade fever with teething. If the fever is greater than 101ºF then don’t just blame it on the teeth – check with your baby’s doctor. If the diarrhea is mild, no more than a couple of episodes and she is still drinking normally then it may be due to the increased mucus some kids swallow when teething.

What can we do about teething pain?
He wants to chew. On everything, right? Pressure on the sore gums makes it feel a little better. Chilled teething rings are great. They soothe the heat and swelling and give some relief. Make sure that whatever you give won’t be a choking hazard, even when it thaws (some people like to freeze a bagel, but this can become a danger as it thaws and she can gnaw off a piece by accident).
Are topical medicines safe? Unfortunately, the topical teething pain relievers are not safe for children under age 2 without your doctor’s specific recommendation. They can’t be used for more than 2 days in anyone, and can in rare cases cause a blood disorder. So talk to your doctor before buying! This includes any benzocaine containing product and also the herbal products that can be helpful, including clove oils.
Should we try a pain reliever medicine? Sometimes I will recommend to patients a weight-based dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen. For teething, ibuprofen often provides more relief, as it can reduce swelling as well as relieving pain. However, ibuprofen is not usually recommended for kids under 6 months of age. Talk to your baby’s doctor before trying this!

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