Teething can be a stressful time for both parents and babies because everyone is a little cranky and nobody is getting enough sleep. We sat down with Russell Horton, an osteopathic physician at Banner Health Center in Queen Creek, for some insight into managing your baby’s teething pain.
On average, teething symptoms start around 4 months of age. The most common signs of teething are fussiness, excessive drooling and increased chewing on hands or objects. Sometimes you may also be able to see swelling on the gums where your baby’s new teeth are beginning to move up. While commonly accepted, other believed “signs” of teething like fever or diarrhea haven't been proven to be actually associated with teething.
What can I do to help?
When your baby is in obvious pain, all you want to do is make it go away. “The best care for teething is supportive,” said Dr. Horton. “This means chilled (not frozen solid) teething objects or other teething toys. Medications can be used for worsening pain or trouble sleeping while teething if your doctor has approved them for your baby.”
If your baby still seems uncomfortable, try rubbing their gums with a clean finger or moist washcloth, as the pressure can help soothe their pain. If your baby is eating solid foods you can try giving them something hard, but edible, to gnaw on, like a large carrot. Just be sure to keep a close eye on your baby since any pieces that break off could potentially be a choking hazard.
Refrain from giving your baby homeopathic teething tablets containing belladonna or gels with benzocaine. Even though they are marketed to numb pain related to teething, the FDA has issued safety alerts for these types of products due to their potential for negative side effects.
Does my baby need to see a doctor?
When it comes to teething, care can typically be handled at home. “But,” Dr. Horton said, “remember that it is always ok to see the doctor if you are at all unsure. If your baby develops new symptoms or seems more fussy than usual, or if they develop a fever over 100.4, be sure to give your child’s pediatrician a call.”
If you are concerned about teething or are looking for advice from a pediatric expert, visit bannerhealth.com to locate a provider near you.