Teething is an issue that we as new parents will have no choice but to deal with. Those of you who have slightly older children will know exactly where I am coming from. Here’s a little bit of help to get you through those endless cranky days: this two-part segment will give you some teething tips ranging from a few medical management pointers to some more ‘alternative’ holistic approaches.
Your bundle of joy’s first tooth will be regarded as one of a series of significant developmental landmarks in their development. However, it is nonetheless a difficult and sometimes distressing time for both you and your child. It is accepted that the eruption of baby teeth is accompanied by a number of relatively minor symptoms including: pain, inflammation of the gum lying over the tooth that is erupting (possibly with some bleeding), general irritability as well as malaise, disturbed sleep/wakefulness, facial flushing with or without a rash around the mouth, drooling, gum rubbing, biting, sucking, bowel upset (constipation or loose stools), loss of appetite, and ear rubbing on the same side as the erupting tooth.
There are many things that you can do to help your child through this period. Of course, you should remember that if your baby has severe systemic upset at the time of teething you should not hesitate to visit you general medical practitioner.
A wide range of teething rings are available for infants to ’chew‘ on but of course please do ensure that you check what the ring is made of in case of allergies or harmful substances. Solid silicone-based rings are seen as superior to their liquid filled counterparts as they can be sterilized and are not at risk of releasing harmful liquids if damaged. You may also find that if you chill the rings first they are more effective at temporarily relieving pain. Rusks made from wheatgerm and flour, such as Bickiepegs, are also brilliant at short term relief of pain and irritation (ensure that they are unsweetened!). I’ve also seen the little ones get relief from chewing oven-hardened bread, bread sticks and even frozen fresh fruit like bananas.
There are varying views on the use of a pacifier, but they have been known to help with teething as chewing on the teat will really help with irritation. Ultimately all the methods described above involve the application of pressure to the painful area of the gum. Ensure whatever you use is clean and does not cause further irritation to the area. You will notice your child will be salivating a lot more than usual. Any excess saliva should be wiped away regularly to prevent a rash developing around the mouth.
Most parents prefer to avoid using pharmacological preparations during teething. However, a wide range of effective topical and systemic preparations are available when all else fails which we will talk about in the next segment.
What NOT to do
Some outdated practices may be harmful to your child’s oral health. Adding sugar, honey or jam to feeding bottles, or dipping a pacifier in honey or jam, has absolutely no pain-relieving effect and can very easily cause tooth decay. Giving a teething infant a feeding bottle in bed should be discouraged for the same reasons. Parents should also be advised that the repeated application of alcohol to the gums of an infant is ineffective as a topical anaesthetic and due to an infant’s small body weight may lead to chronic health problems.
As can be seen, there are a great number of ways to help your child through teething. When this fails, medications such as Paracetamol preparations can be used which I will discuss in greater depth next time.
Dr. Monik Vasant
Dr. Vasant is a highly experienced clinician with a special interest in minimally invasive cosmetic and advanced dentistry. His ethos is to create beautiful smiles without compromising the long-term health of the teeth. He is a keen believer in the use short-term orthodontics and adhesive techniques to improve the appearance of teeth without damaging them. It is this approach that won him the title of ‘Best Young Dentist’ in the Northwest Dentistry Awards of 2010.
Dr. Vasant is also an author, having written for the book Messages from Dental Masters which was aimed at dentists themselves and was complied by some of the most notable people in the dental profession. Dr. Vasant also wrote his own book Smile Art, featuring a portfolio of his work.
Since 2011 Dr. Vasant has regularly appeared in Dentistry Magazine's Annual Dentistry Top 50 poll of the most influential people in the industry and in 2012 he was voted 3rd in the Private Dentistry Elite Top 20 poll of British dentists. Dr. Vasant regularly appears in the media on programmes such as GMTV, the BBC’s ‘The One Show’, ITN News and Channel 4.
T: 020 7837 5523