Understanding the teething period in infants

Teething is a natural process that occurs as infants' teeth begin to emerge through their gums. It typically begins around 4 to 8 months of age, with the lower front teeth, and continues until the last set of molars appear between 30 to 36 months of age. Although the exact timing can vary from child to child, most babies begin teething around 6 months of age, with the front bottom two teeth emerging first. It's important to note that teething is a gradual process that can take several months to complete, with new teeth appearing at different times throughout the teething period.

There are several signs and symptoms that can indicate that an infant is teething. These can include: 

  • Tender or swollen gums 
  • Increased drooling 
  • Chewing or biting on objects 
  • Irritability or fussiness 
  • Difficulty sleeping 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Mild fever 

It's important to note that not all infants will experience all of these symptoms, and some may not experience any discomfort at all when teething. If an infant experiences a high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or other symptoms not typically associated with teething, it's important to contact a healthcare provider to rule out any other potential health issues.

The timeline of the teething period can vary from child to child, with new teeth appearing at different times. However, there are some general guidelines that can help parents anticipate when their child's teeth may emerge. As previously mentioned, the front bottom two teeth usually appear first, followed by the front top two teeth. The first molars typically appear next, followed by the canines and second molars. It's important to keep in mind that this timeline is not set in stone and can vary from child to child. Parents can help soothe their infant's discomfort during the teething period by providing teething toys, gently massaging their gums, and using over-the-counter pain relievers recommended by their healthcare provider.

Coping with the discomfort during teething period

Teething is a natural process that can cause discomfort in infants. Home remedies can be used to alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with teething. One effective home remedy is to offer something cold to the baby, which can help to numb the pain. A cold washcloth, spoon, or chilled teething ring can be soothing on a baby's gums. Another option is to massage the baby's gums gently. This can provide relief by stimulating blood flow to the area and easing the discomfort. Frozen fruits, such as bananas, apples, and carrots, can also be given to the baby to gnaw on for pain relief and a tasty treat. It is important to avoid giving the baby a frozen teething ring, as this can cause damage to the gums. Chamomile tea can also be used to help with teething discomfort and is an ingredient in some natural teething products.

Over-the-counter medications can also be used to alleviate teething pain, but it is important to consult with a pediatrician before giving any medication to an infant. Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, can be used to dull the pain, but ibuprofen should not be used unless the baby is at least six months old. It is crucial to follow the recommended dosage and not to give the baby more than the recommended amount. Benzocaine, which is found in some teething gels, should be avoided as it can cause a rare but serious condition called methemoglobinemia. It is also important to avoid using homeopathic remedies or teething jewelry, as they can be dangerous.

While teething discomfort is a normal part of an infant's development, there are times when it is necessary to consult a doctor. If the baby has a fever higher than 100.4°F, diarrhea, vomiting, or a rash on the body, it may be a sign of a more serious condition. The main symptoms of teething are drooling and rubbing the gums, and it does not cause fever or crying. If these symptoms are present, it is important to look for another cause. The American Dental Association recommends that children see a dentist by age one or within six months after the first tooth appears to spot any potential issues. By using home remedies and consulting with a doctor when necessary, parents can help their infants cope with the discomfort of teething.