Before motherhood, you probably looked forward to this momentous milestone with anticipation. Your baby's first tooth. One step closer to eating solid foods. The adorable, toothy grins.
Now that it's here, you realize that it actually means a lot of fussing and NOT a lot of sleeping. (And, seriously, when does the crying stop long enough to catch a picture of one of those toothy grins?!)
Here's a little guide to get you through the next few months:
Order of Emergence
Your baby's teeth will come in a fairly predictable order, starting with the bottom front pair and then the upper front pair. The first four teeth are the easiest for your baby since they're flat and sharp and tend to come in without too much disruption. Instead, they're typically accompanied by swollen gums, drooling, and a lot of chewing.
You'll start to see your baby's teeth emerge anytime between 4 and 8 months (although if they appear before or after this period, it is not indicative of anything going wrong).
In technical terms, your baby's teeth will likely emerge in this order: lower central incisors, upper central incisors, upper lateral incisors, lower lateral incisors, upper first molars, lower first molars, upper canines, lower canines, lower second molars, and, finally, upper second molars. (If you're like most of us and just skimmed right over all of those fancy names, check out this visual guide to help you out.)
Ease the Pain
To ease your baby's pain, and hopefully earn yourself a couple hours of sleep, try out these remedies:
- Try using a frozen washcloth, refrigerated pacifer or teether, or a frozen carrot (a large one so that you can hold on to one end).
- Rub your baby's gums with a clean finger. The pressure distracts their brains from the pain.
- Try an over-the-counter, topical anesthetic to numb the gums. Be aware of 2 hazards associated with numbing gel: 1) The FDA warns that benzocaine productsshouldn't be used on children under 2 without guidance from a doctor. In rare cases, it causes methemoglobinemia, a condition in which the amount of oxygen in the blood drops to dangerous levels. 2) Your baby might swallow some of the medication with their saliva, numbing his throat and relaxing his gag reflex which could cause choking.
- Check with your doctor (again, check with your doctor) and they might suggest an over-the-counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen (but NEVER aspirin!)
- Some parents swear by homeopathic teething drops and tablets, but the FDA has recalled many of these products due to safety concerns. Check with your doctor first.
- Who better to ask than other parents dealing with the same issue? Check out the suggestions from a few other parents at BabyCenter.
Baby Teeth Hygiene
Even those this first set of pearly whites isn't here to stay, it's still very important to keep them cleaning. Make sure everything you put in your baby's mouth is clean, including your own finger. Your first reaction to clean off a pacifier might be to use your own saliva, but you could be passing off your own cavity-causing bacteria. (Yes, cavities ARE contagious!)
Wipe your baby's gums daily with a clean, damp washcloth or gauze. Once the teeth start to emerge, transition to a soft, wet toothbrush. When two teeth come in that are touching, it's time to break out the floss. When your child learns to spit, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste with fluoride. Around their first birthday, they should be taking their first trip to the dentist.
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