Leyton’s Mumma Says…
Teething can start from birth and go on for years. Sorry to break that to you, but it’s better to be prepared and realistic I feel. By this I mean, I’ve heard of babies who had 2 teeth when they were born or starting showing teething symptons from 4 weeks old, although the majority seem to be a lot later (around 6 months) and get all their milk teeth by 2 ½ years old. So, we thought it was important to cover a few pointers on teething and teeth generally…
Babies and Teeth
They supposedly come through in this order (above picture). Of course, this is complete baloney as all babies are completely different and do things whenever they are ready to….but it’s a general guide anyway. Your baby’s teeth will have been developing under their gums for a while before you start to see a little white slit of a tooth poking through, so I for one will be honest and admit I was at a loss for days trying everything to calm and soothe my baby when a couple of weeks later the first tooth started to show and I realised he had been teething (he didn’t really exhibit any of the symptoms listed below except chewing his hands and being restless). And I know now this doesn’t make me a bad Mumma, just a very guilty feeling first time Mumma who wished there was more info out there on this topic!! A good example that every step of being a first time Mumma is a learning curve.
If you want to see a few examples of when some of the Mumma Says babies got their first few teeth, there’s a little graph for you to look at called the Milestones Graph.
As soon as you see the tiny glimmer of a tooth its time to start brushing, according to the NHS website http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/looking-after-your-infants-teeth.aspx. That’s what we did with Leyton, we got a baby toothbrush and some Milk Teeth Toothpaste and started with a tiny smear of paste every evening as part of his bedtime routine (it’s recommended you don’t use a flavoured toothpaste as it’s a harder jump to adult toothpaste when the time comes). This coincided with us starting weaning at 6 months, so I was happy taking this advice as didn’t like the idea of all the acidic juicy fruits Leyton was trying, to sit on his gums before his little teeth even came through properly. Some websites say you can just use adult toothpaste but I found there was less fluoride in baby toothpaste so this was my personal preference. A couple of my other Mumma friends used the Brush Baby Dental Wipes that are a ‘finger sleeve wipe’ to start brushing your baby’s gums before you move onto brushes. But it’s up to you. Either way, it’s good to start early so they get used to brushing as part of their daily routine and hopefully will continue it into adulthood by themselves.
You may hear different theories on the molars cause more pain because they are wider and have longer roots vs the incisors cause more pain because of the jagged thin edges moving around. Unfortunately again this can differ with each child and each tooth, so it’s just about being prepared for the worst and pleasantly surprised if your little one isn’t really bothered by new teeth, which can also happen.
Your baby may show some, all or none of these symptoms when teething…but chances are of they have 3 or more and are in the age bracket then they probably are teething. Obviously if you are worried at all about your baby’s health you should always seek medical help, by speaking to a health visitor at a weigh in, a pharmacist, booking a doctors appointment or phoning 111 (UK only.)
- Dribbling excessively
- Chewing on hands/ fingers / everything possible
- Being fretful and will not settle doing anything
- One cheek is flushed/ pink on the side the tooth’s coming through. Or sometimes both
- Rash around mouth / nose / chin – sometimes due to the excess dribbling. Leyton hasn’t dribbled with his latest teeth but had a sore looking rash which we are soothing with sudocrem, vaseline and Cetraben (e45 type cream the doctors gave us) at different points
- Rubbing at ears – earache on the side of the tooth coming through is common. Calpol will ease this normally
- Temperature/ fever (although some websites say this is just coincidence)
- Fussy with foods and/or turning away from milk because gums are sore (sucking can be painful when teething)
- Diarrhea, and/or bad nappy rash (although some websites say diarrhea is also just coincidence)
- The gums may become sore and red where the tooth is coming through
Some tips on dealing with teething:
- Have good medicines in…
- Bonjela Sugar Free gel (the most effective I’ve found, but only from 2 months+ and apply every 2 hours) £2.60 at www.boots.com
- Dentinox Gel (I personally don’t think it’s as strong as Bonjela but has similar active ingredients – but can be used from birth and applied every 20 minutes so definitely worth having too) £1.80 at www.boots.com
- Nelson’s Teetha Granules (pour straight on gums, homeopathic remedies) £4.49 at www.boots.com
- Ambesol liquid, less sugary that the gels and can be rubbed on every 3 hours) £5.59 at www.boots.com
- Paracetamol based medicine like calpol is a good pain reliever, and an ibuprofen based medicine like Nurofen Babies is an anti-inflammatory and reduces swelling so they have different uses but sometimes there is a need for both as long as they are spaced apart… just always read and follow the labels and be careful giving them to children under 4 months. We also buy the Boots own brand of these products as the active ingredients are identical.
- Have a good soother, like Sophie The Giraffe Original Teether in Blister Pack (White) £12.49 at amazon.com is very popular soothing chewy toy. Get this from newborn if possible!
- Teething rings (Nuby, Muchkin and Bright Starts have great ones but the supermarkets own brands can go down just as well). You can put these in the fridge first as being cold will have a slightly numbing effect.
- Dummies can also be effective
- Cold wet flannels can be effective for your little one to chew on too, just make sure they’re very clean and not soaking wet!
- Foods can sometimes help teething, like cold cucumber, carrot sticks or yoghurt straight from the fridge, as long as you have tried these before and your baby is of an age to have food eg over 6 months old! Try listen to your baby…. some of the Mumma Says Babies prefer crunchy foods to gnaw on and apply pressure on their gums when teething whereas some prefer soft squidgy foods as their gums are super sensitive, meaning they don’t like the opposite.
- Distractions can work too – like most times when you’re in pain, thinking about it can make it feel worse. SO where possible it may be worth trying to distract your little one with songs with wild hand movements, toys, books etc to try take their mind off it. This doesn’t always work but is good to remember, especially as some teething pain is just shooting pain for a few seconds then passes so may not be necessary for you to reach for the drugs straight away!
And here’s some random tooth tips that don’t fit anywhere else 😉
- Dentists – In the UK you get free dental check ups from around 12 weeks into your pregnancy for the 12 months following your expected birth, so chances are you will be going to the dentists with your little one in tow. This is the best way for your baby to see that going to the dentists and seeing that it is an ok experience. And once they start getting teeth you can ask your dentist when they think is the right time to have a ‘check’ (which will no doubt just be a cursory look over the first few times, all to just share the experience.)
- Water and milk – are the best things for your little one to drink. Sounds obvious, but as far as teeth are concerned fizzy drinks, squash and juice are not good for babies. Whilst the teeth are coming through especially, these drinks sit on their gums and the acids and sugars in them increase the risk of tooth decay.
- Cups – The NHS guidelines say that teats and bottles should be given up by 1 because it encourages babies to suck at drinks which coats their teeth for a long time… the same applies to sippy cups/ non spill cups where you have to suck. I have some friends who still use bottles for the morning and night feeds but not in the day, so I really think you have to use your common sense here and do what feels right for your little one. We have a different perspective as Leyton never took to a bottle and went straight onto a open doidy cup (Mumma still holds it though!). What he does like sometimes at a bedtime feed is the Babies R Us Spout cups which hold enough and are long like a bottle, but are actually a free flowing spout rather than bottle teat so provide comfort. £3.99 for 4 at www.toysrus.com. I’m sure we should be brushing his teeth after this bedtime milk so it’s not coating his teeth and gums all night, but he oftens drifts straight to sleep after the milk so I’ve decided at this age we’ll keep the routine as it is. Mumma knows best!
For more excellent websites on these topics: