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What should parents know about teething? Babies and toddlers experience the break-through of new teeth several times throughout the first two years. This can cause discomfort and irritability in the child. Likewise, it can trigger stress and difficulty for the parents. This quick teething guide will help parents to understand the when, what, and how of teething.

Teething guide: When

Teething generally begins in infants around 6 months of age, but sometimes it can occur sooner. The first teeth to erupt at this time are the lower central incisors. Next, the upper central incisors will break through around 8 months of age. At 10 months of age, parents can expect the lower and upper lateral incisors to make an appearance. Finally, the canine teeth appear around 18 months with the second molars around age two. However, just like any growth schedule for children, ages are not exact and they may vary.

Teething guide: What

There are a few common symptoms of teething. Babies and young children who are teething may drool more than usual. They may exhibit more frequent and enthusiastic chewing behaviors. They may become picky about the foods they eat or refuse solid foods for a short period of time. In addition, teething children are often fussy during the day, with irritability that increases at night.

Teething guide: How

How can parents make a teething experience a little bit better on everyone? There are a few well-known methods for soothing a teething baby or toddler:

Cold – cold feels good on aching gums. A frozen washcloth is a great way to let the child chew while getting the soothing cold they desire.

Massage – Rubbing the child’s sore gums with your finger can also help with the pain of teething.

Play and cuddling – Sometimes, distraction works best for the little ones. Play a silly game, introduce a soft new toy, or allow extra cuddle time to soothe your child.

Pain medications – As long as you have asked the pediatrician for permission and proper dosage instructions, over-the-counter pain medications like Tylenol or Advil can help.

In addition, here are a few cautions for parents with a teething child:

Avoid teething rings with liquid or gels inside – little teeth are sharp and can puncture these, allowing the child to swallow the contents.

Do not use teething gels – the FDA now warns against the use of teething gels. These products, like Baby Orajel, contain Benzocaine. This anesthetic is linked with a rare but serious condition. The FDA advises parents not to use benzocaine on babies under age two.

Finally, do not mistake illness symptoms for teething. See the pediatrician if your child’s fever is high, because a teething fever is usually very low. In addition, consult a pediatrician if drooling is excessive or the baby is very unhappy for an extended period. Some illnesses present themselves with symptoms similar to teething.

This teething guide should help you to make it through the sometimes-difficult teething periods with your child. Always refer to a pediatrician for any concerns or questions. Also, do not forget to schedule the first dental appointment for your little one about 6-7 months after the first tooth erupts. It is important to care for these baby teeth because they serve as space maintainers for permanent teeth.