What can a parent do when their child is teething?  This quick teething guide will help parents to understand the when, what, and how of teething.

When your child may be teething

Babies and toddlers grow new teeth several times before age three. Teething usually starts around 6 months of age, but it can occur sooner. The first teeth to erupt at this time are on the bottom (lower central incisors). The upper teeth (upper central incisors) will usually break through next, around 8 months of age. Then a few months later, parents can expect the lower and upper lateral incisors to come in. Finally, the canine teeth appear around 18 months of age and the second molars appear around age two. However, ages are not exact and they can vary.

What to expect when your child is teething

There are a few common symptoms of teething. Babies may drool more than usual. They may start chewing on everything. They may refuse solid foods for a short period of time or change their eating habits. In addition, teething children are often fussy during the day and it worsens at night.

How to help when your child is teething

When a child is teething, comfort is key.  A few methods for soothing a teething baby or toddler include:

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

Cold – Aching gums are soothed by cold. A frozen washcloth is a great option for chewing when your child is teething.

Pain medicine – Over-the-counter pain medications like Tylenol can help with the discomfort of teething. Be sure to consult with a pediatrician first for approval and instructions.

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

Cautions when your child is teething

Do not use teething gels – the FDA 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.

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

Finally, do not mistake illness symptoms for teething. See the pediatrician if your child’s fever is high. A teething fever is usually low. Also, call the pediatrician if drooling is excessive or the baby is very unhappy for a long time. Some illnesses may appear like teething.

This teething guide should help you to make it through the difficult teething periods with your child. Always talk to a pediatrician for concerns or questions. Remember to schedule the first dental appointment for your little one about 6 months after the first tooth comes in. It is important to care for these baby teeth because they maintain proper space for permanent teeth.