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Drooling, Chewing & Crying: How to get through Teething

Babies have been teething for millennia- and that means that families have been trying to figure out how to help a baby crying the middle of the night for thousands of years. If you are a parent reading this at 3 am, welcome to the teething club. Take comfort from the fact that many other parents are reading this right along with you.

We imagine that your teething journey began like this: your once sleeping baby is now up at all hours of the night. They are chewing on their fist nonstop. Drool is pouring from their mouth like a faucet. Their cheeks are red and chapped from the moisture. They are overall miserable and angry and confused. As the parent, you want to give your baby relief – and you want everyone to go back to sleep. Here at The Center for Advanced Pediatrics, we want that too.

Baby Teeth Basics

Baby teeth generally come in the same order. The front eight teeth, four on the top and four on the bottom will be the first to erupt through the gums. These are followed by the one-year molars. The canine teeth emerge around 18 months of age, and the two-year molars show up for the finale. Baby – and you – will experience discomfort in waves, from when they begin to feel the teeth move through the gums, as teeth begin to surface, and then as teeth cut through the skin.

The average age babies begin teething is around six months old. However, some babies are actually born with teeth and some babies don’t get their first tooth until after their first birthday.

When your baby starts to show signs of teething discomfort, wash your hands thoroughly and then examine your baby’s mouth. If teething has started, you may notice swollen gums, and possibly see the white tooth through the gums.

Myth vs Reality

You may also notice signs of a possible ear infection, such as Baby pulling at their ears and/or running a fever. Ear pulling happens because the nerves that are connected to the mouth go up to the ears. Tugging is a way of self-soothing and relieving pain from teething.

Your mothers and grandmothers will tell you to expect Baby to have a fever when they are teething, but there is no evidence to validate this. It is true that the Baby’s temperature may rise slightly, but not enough to spike a fever. If Baby’s temperature rises to 100.4° or more, contact us. While Baby may teething, a temperature indicates an infection that should be treated.

Old Wives Tales Are Not Cures

Do not rub whiskey or any type of alcohol on Baby’s gums. Any amount of alcohol can affect their development. It could also numb their throat, affecting their ability to swallow and increase their chance of choking.

Do not use a numbing gel for teething pain. The FDA determined these products are not safe for children under the age of two years – when most teething happens. Numbing products increase the risk of your baby developing methemoglobinemia, a blood disorder that prevents adequate oxygen from reaching the cells in the body.

Do not use amber or other types of teething necklaces. There is no evidence that amber has anti-inflammatory or healing properties. Necklaces or beads are actually a strangulation and choking hazard.

Safe Teething Remedies

Yes, there are healthy ways to help relieve teething pain. Safe teething remedies include:

  • Chilled teething rings that are large enough to prevent choking
  • A dry, ice cold wash cloth for baby to suck and chew
  • Massage Baby’s gums with clean gauze as the pressure you apply will relieve discomfort
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed by your pediatrician to ease discomfort so the baby can rest
  • Homemade ice pops with pureed fruit for older toddlers to eat
  • Extra cuddles during the day

Just like those parents thousands of years ago, your family will make it through the teething stage too. Remember that, while teething is uncomfortable, it is not the only reason why Baby could be miserable. If your baby develops a fever or is inconsolable, contact our office at 203-229-2000 for an appointment.