What to know about teething in children
What is teething and what are the symptoms?
Babies are usually born, except in rare cases, without teeth. The milestone by which the baby’s teeth erupt is known as teething. It is a normal physiological process, just like other milestones, such as, sitting, crawling, walking etc. It is not a disease and so, should not exhibit symptoms the way we understand it as the manifestation of an illness or disease condition.
However, there are some signs that may show a baby is about to erupt a tooth. These include itching or scratching of the gum. The baby will also salivate more. Some babies may be a little cranky or irritable just before the tooth erupts. There may also be a slight rise in temperature of not usually more than 1C. Some babies may repeatedly bite on toys or the breasts, if still sucking.
At what stage does teething appear?
The first set of teeth, called the incisors, usually erupt between five to seven months. However, it is still within normal range for babies not to cut their first teeth at the age of one. The timing is a wide range.
How long does the process take?
There are usually 20 milk teeth, which will be replaced later on by the permanent teeth. Milk teeth usually erupt between an average of six to 12 months to two years.
When do kids lose milk teeth?
Children lose the milk teeth to give way to the permanent teeth, which are more in number and stronger than the milk teeth, and by extension, able to do more functions for which the teeth are meant.
What can a parent do to relieve the symptoms?
There is really nothing to do. Teething is a normal physiological process. It does not require any form of medications, especially the popular teething powder or mixtures. These drugs are most unnecessary and sometimes dangerous drugs, which parents give their children for a process that requires no medications.
As for the itching, it is sufficient to provide soft toys called teethers for the child to bite on. However, these toys must be frequently sterilised and kept clean to avoid germs and infections. Also, parents must ensure that the toy is age-appropriate. For the mild increase in temperature, Paracetamol can be given to the child.
If the baby develops high fever, diarrhoea, cough or vomits, parents shouldn’t assume it is the teething process. Such children should be taken to the hospital immediately.
When should a parent start brushing a baby’s teeth?
They should start brushing the teeth immediately the first tooth erupts. The appropriate milk toothpaste of not more than the size of rice grain with a soft toothbrush should be used.
When is it appropriate for a parent to take a baby for dental examination?
The first dental appointment should be at the age of one, irrespective of whether the baby has cut the first tooth or not.