Baby teething occurs when the first teeth also known as primary teeth start to come in. In most cases, the lower front teeth come in first. Normally this takes place when the baby is about six months, although it can happen earlier or later depending on the child.
During this time, some babies experience discomfort such as sore gums, irritability, drooling and even loss of appetite. These symptoms can start about five days earlier than the teeth come in; however, the symptoms can really start any time around a tooth coming in, even after the tooth has broken through the gum.
To make this period bearable for the infant and the mother or the caretaker, various teething remedies can be used. They can range from using natural methods to medication. Following are some baby teething remedies.
Applying pressure on the gum
When the gums are irritated and in pain, applying pressure can help soothe them. This can be done by using teethers or massaging the gum.
- Teethers – Various types of teethers exist on the market. They help the infant by soothing the sore gums by applying counter pressure to the gums. Some of these teethers include Sophie the Giraffe, soft keys and teething necklaces. Some teethers are meant to be worn by the mother while others can be placed on the baby’s neck or ankle.
- Massaging the gum – This is one of the oldest teething remedies around and probably the most simple and natural for a baby and mother. It involves applying pressure on the baby’s gums using a clean finger. The pressure applied helps to soothe the gum and ease the pain. Baby’s naturally want to chew on fingers when they are teething, so this makes perfect sense.
Using cold things
Cold things can be used to numb or deaden pain on the gum. You can use a wet cloth, a refrigerated teether and chilled foods for a child taking solids.
- Wet cloth – A cold wet cloth can help soothe the gums and numb the pain. To make the cloth cold, you should put it in a plastic bag after wetting it, and then place it in the refrigerator. The cold helps to numb the pain and the fabric massages the gums. You can dip the cloth in water, chamomile tea or in breast milk to make it wet.
- Refrigerated teether – In this remedy, teethers are placed in the refrigerator. Once cold enough, they can be placed on the infant’s gums to numb the pain. Some teethers even have plastic handles so the baby can find somewhere that is not cold to hold. Other teethers are liquid filled, and when they are placed in the refrigerator, the liquid becomes cold and can remain so for a long time. The teethers should not be frozen in a freezer to prevent them from being too hard, which could damage the infant’s gums.
- Chilled food – A baby that is feeding on solids can be given chilled food such as fruits and large carrots.
- A chilled spoon – The baby can get relief from a cold spoon that has been placed in the refrigerator. Applying the rounded part on the gums can help soothe irritated gums. However, this method is only suitable if the baby does not have any teeth yet.
If the above methods fail to work and the infant is in pain due to sore gums, you can use painkillers. Although there are some over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen, it is advisable to consult with a doctor before administering any kind of medication, especially if the baby is less than six months old.
There is need to seek the approval of a doctor when giving acetaminophen to infants less than three months. However, this painkiller can alleviate the discomfort caused by teething.
Topically applied medication
This is a cream or gel that is applied on the gums to numb them and relieve the pain. It is rubbed on the infant’s gums using cotton wool or a clean finger to relieve the pain caused by teething. However, this is a controversial remedy considering the US FDA warns against using topical medications containing benzocaine on children below two years without a doctor’s guidance.
One should also consult with a doctor before administering the gel to babies who are less than four months. The best gels are those that are sugar free and that are meant for babies. They should be applied according to the given instructions.
The problem with this remedy is that the gel or cream does not remain on the gums as intended. It may end up being swallowed with the baby’s saliva and end up numbing the throat, which can cause the baby to choke. Benzocaine can also cause a condition that results in reduced oxygen in the blood.
For some infants, breastfeeding can provide comfort from teething problems. To prevent the baby from being tempted to use the nipples for teething, you can rub the gums with a clean finger before the baby starts to feed. You should also end the feeding before the baby starts to be bored so that the baby does not bite the nipples.
This may not work for all infants, especially those whose pain get worse when they breastfeed.
Using homeopathic medicine
Homeopathic teething tablets and drops are used with the hope of stimulating healing of the gums by introducing a diluted form of symptoms of what is being cured. Some parents find these useful, although the FDA has not evaluated their effectiveness. There are also studies that have found these remedies not having any effect on relieving pain.
It is also advisable to use homeopathic remedies after discussing with a doctor.
Some babies suffer from teething problems such as pain in the gums, drooling, irritability and fussiness. It is therefore important to find a remedy to ease the infant’s discomfort. There are many ways this can be done with some methods being proven effective while others are not proven.
Some parents use methods such as massaging the gums or using teething toys that soothe the gums. Cold items such as cold cloths, teethers and cold food are also known to relieve the teething pain in the gums.
There are those who turn to painkillers, especially if the pressure exerting methods do not yield results. Other remedies such as homeopathic medicine and topically applied medicines can be effective, but should be used with caution.
Teething can be a trying time for the baby and parent, but there it doesn’t last forever. Hopefully you can find a remedy that will comfort your baby while they go through this process.