What is teething?
Teething is when new teeth begin to come through your child's gums. A child's first tooth usually appears between 4 and 8 months of age. Your child should have 20 primary (baby) teeth by the time he is 3 years old.
What are the signs and symptoms of teething?
The most common signs of teething are when your child sucks, chews, or bites his fingers, toys, or other objects. He may also have any of the following:
- Drooling or a face rash
- Sore, tender gums
- Irritable or fussy behavior
- Trouble sleeping
- Ear rubbing
- Decreased appetite
- Fever less than 102°F (38.9°C)
- A small red or white spot where the tooth is coming in
How can I help my child feel better while he is teething?
- Let him chew: Give your child a cold (not frozen) teething ring or pacifier to chew on. Wet a clean cloth with cold water and offer it to your child to chew on. Do not leave your child alone while he chews on the washcloth.
- Rub his gums: Gently rub his gums with a clean finger, cool spoon, or wet gauze.
- Give him cold liquids or foods: Give your child cold (not frozen) juice to decrease pain. Cold fruit (such as a banana) or a cold vegetable (such as a peeled cucumber) are also good choices. Do not give your child hard foods, such as carrots, because he can choke.
- Give him acetaminophen as directed: This medicine decreases your child's pain and lowers a fever. It can be bought without a doctor's order. Ask how much medicine is safe to give your child, and how often to give it.
What are some things I should avoid?
- Do not dip a pacifier or teething ring in sugar or honey.
- Do not rub alcohol on your child's gums.
- Do not use fluid-filled teething rings.
- Do not use frozen foods, liquids, or teething devices.
- Do not tie a teething ring around your child's neck.
How should I care for my child's teeth as they come in?
- Schedule your child's first dental appointment. This should occur after your child's teeth begin to come in and before his first birthday.
- Clean your child's teeth using a child-sized, soft bristle toothbrush and water. Begin adding a small amount of fluoride toothpaste to the toothbrush when your child is 2 years old. Teach your child to brush correctly. Do not let your child chew on the toothbrush or eat the toothpaste.
- Do not let your child drink from a bottle while lying down or going to sleep. This can cause tooth decay and increase your child's risk of an ear infection.
- Do not let your child walk around with his bottle. This can cause a tooth injury if your child falls. Do not let him drink from the bottle or breast for longer than a regular mealtime. This can lead to tooth decay.
- Do not give your child fruit juice until he is 6 months or older. Children less than 6 years old should drink no more than ½ cup to ⅔ cup each day. Too much juice can cause diarrhea, upset stomach, and tooth decay. Give your child juice from a cup, not a bottle. Buy 100% fruit juice that is pasteurized.
When should I contact my child's caregiver?
Contact your child's caregiver if:
- Your child has a fever.
- Your child has nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
- Your child continues to act fussy and irritable after his teeth have come in.
- Your child's gum is red, swollen, and draining pus where the tooth is coming in.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.
You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.