Teething – taking care of your baby’s teeth
Babies can get their first tooth anywhere between three and fifteen months, but commonly between four and nine months — although discomfort may start earlier.
Dribbling at three months is usually a result of your baby learning to put things in their mouth, which is part of normal development.30-32
- Rub your baby’s sore gums gently with your finger;
- Give your baby a teething ring – either a soft rubber one, or the plastic type that can be kept in the refrigerator;
- If you think your baby is in pain, consider giving paracetamol as directed for the child’s age;
- Avoid hard sharp-edged toys that could damage teeth and gums.
- Don’t dip dummies or teething rings in honey or sweet foods, as it may lead to dental decay (honey shouldn’t be given to babies under 12 months);
- Don’t suck your baby’s dummy and give it back to them, as you will transfer bacteria from your mouth to theirs.
- Rosy, flushed cheeks;
- Increased dribbling;
- Tugging at ears;
- Chewing on everything;
- Tender swollen gums;
- Disturbed sleep;
- Poor appetite;
- Loose, frequent stools;
- Sore red bottom or rash.
Note: Generally, teething does not cause a fever. If your baby has a high temperature, consult your doctor.31,32
What many parents don’t realise is that emerging baby teeth need to be looked after as carefully as we look after our own teeth.
As well as their obvious importance for chewing and speaking, they help proper jaw development, and reserve the spaces for the permanent teeth to come through later.
- Start cleaning when teeth appear. Gently wipe with a clean damp cloth at bath time;
- Progress to a small soft bristle toothbrush with water. (There are special brushes available for babies);
- Hold the baby sitting against you facing the bathroom mirror so they can see their teeth being cleaned;
- Let your baby play with their toothbrush while they watch you brush your teeth. (It takes years for them to learn how to brush);
- Start using a pea-sized amount of low fluoride children’s toothpaste only when they have learnt to spit things out from their mouth;
- Limit amount of sugary foods in diet.
- The front teeth will last until the age of five to seven years;
- The back molars last until about 12 years.