If babies could talk, they might have a few things to say about their troubles with teething: "Ooohh, do my gums ever hurt!" Since they can't, parents and caregivers must stay alert to signs of teething: drooling, fussiness, redness of gums and cheeks, sleeplessness, and maybe a loss of appetite. The first signs of teething may begin as early as three to four months of age. Baby teeth usually begin appearing between the ages of 6 to 16 months.
Pay attention to the signs of teething and offer a big dose of TLC (tender loving care) and some relief of discomfort with some tried and true teething tips:
As soon as your baby's teeth are visible, it's time to begin brushing! Baby teeth are susceptible to tooth decay that can lead to damage of permanent teeth. In the morning and before bedtime, brush teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and water only. Do not use toothpaste until your baby reaches two years of age to prevent accidental swallowing. After that, use just a dab (the size of a match-head) of fluoride toothpaste.
Be sure to schedule your child's first dental exam around the time of his or her first birthday (definitely no later than 16 months of age). Routine dental visits reveal any conditions that can be treated early as well as establish your child's dentist as a "healthy smile" partner.
By Brian J. Gray, DDS, MAGD, FICO