The sequential appearance of an infant’s teeth by breaking through the gum is called teething in medical terms. The process is also sometimes referred as ‘cutting teeth’ and it may start as early as three months or sometimes it may be late till the twelve months age of the baby.
Teeth emerge through gums not by cutting through the flesh but during the process some special chemicals are released to kill and separate some cells in the gum to allow the teeth to come through. Still teething is sometimes painful because as the teeth develop they push up through the gums which may cause irritation, pain and swelling.
Though many children go through the process without much pain, there are also quite a few for whom it is painful enough and shows symptoms like heavy drooling, swollen gums or they might also suffer from diarrhea or high temperature, but the last two are normally not associated with teething and should be treated separately after consulting with a doctor.
Symptoms of teething
For many infants, teething is very much painful as well as a long drawn process. Excessive drooling, red and swollen gums, inconsistent feeding, grumpiness and biting and above all sleepless nights are the normal symptoms associated with the process. Some babies get a red rash on their lower lips and chin from the dribbling.
In this case the dribble should be wiped with a soft cotton cloth and make sure not to rub it at all. Application of some petroleum jelly on the chin and under the lips during bed time or before going out will prevent the skin from getting sore. As the infant teeth have the tendency to appear in pairs and in a sequential order having a general pattern, all of them do not necessarily cause equal pain. The large molars often cause more pain than the others as they cannot penetrate the gums as easily as others.
There are some noticeable changes in the child’s behavioral pattern during teething like they might chew their fingers or show a tendency to do the same on anything they can put a hand on in order to relieve the pressure on their gums. Due to the pain they might also refuse to eat and drink anything.
These symptoms are quite normal and generally fade away with time, but if they worsen or become persistent then a doctor is better to be visited. Another sign that tells that the baby is going through pain is the pulling of the ears. As the pain throbs throughout the head the babies pull their ears believing that it will give them much needed relief.
Ways to Smooth Painful Gums
Teething may sometimes be too miserable for a child to bear. There are few simple things that can be done to help to relieve their pain. The parents need to be careful about the time when teething starts to hurt the baby as he needs some extra comfort to bear the pain.
The baby needs more nursing during this period and sometimes a change in the feeding and sleeping pattern may also help. Light rubbing of gums with finger tips is also a good way to soothe painful gums as it helps to ease the pain and some babies enjoy it. But make sure that your fingers are clean before you put them in infant’s mouth.
Washcloths dampened and freeze may also be offered to the baby to chew on or use of some teething toys may also be effective options to comfort the child. If the baby is grown up enough to take some cool and icy drinks then it will also help to reduce the pain in teething gums and the same comfort can be provided by smooth and comforting foods such as yogurt and applesauce.
Cleaning and Medication
Before treating a baby for teething it is important to know the real reasons that are upsetting the baby and if the parents are not able to identify it then consulting a pediatrician is always recommended. Though there are different medications to treat teething, it is not advisable to go for them unless the situation really demands it and instead of treating the pain, the parents should opt for natural treatments like gum massages or using tooth rings.
To prevent the drool rash that often troubles the child during teething, the area around the mouth should be cleaned with warm washcloths or tissue papers if there is excessive drooling. One might get some homeopathic tablets and liquids after consulting with a practitioner as they can prevent excessive drooling and irritation in the gums.
Some topical teething gels are also available that numbs the gums and the tongue to comfort the baby, but they are advised to be used sparingly. A natural version of these teething gels is clove oil which should be gently rubbed on the gums to reduce the pain to a certain extent. If the pain is really unbearable and beyond these homely practices then it is always the best to consult a doctor who might prescribe acetaminophen or some other pain killers suitable for babies and infants.
Tips and Warnings
Always use plastic re-sealable bags to store teething toys and frozen washcloths in the freezer to prevent them from picking up the smell of other foods or anything else placed near it. The baby may also be distracted from his discomfort with some fun activity or new toys or taking him to some different location to change the ambiance around him will also serve the same purpose.
One of the most important things to remember is that the baby should never be given an ice cube to suck as there is a possibility that they might choke it in the throat and create more problems. Teething toys and frozen washcloths are always a better option for this purpose. Some teething babies refuse to be nursed altogether during the teething process and in that case one needs to consult the doctor or the lactation professionals.
Photo Credit- Womenhealthtips.net