Just when you think that your baby is a breeze and you have figured Motherhood out, they throw you for a loop! As your baby starts to sprout teeth, your normally happy infant may become extra drooly, extra fussy and a poor sleeper.  While some children may not be happy campers, there are those that will suddenly sport a big, toothy grin, having provided no indication that Mother Nature had been hard at work!  It is an exciting rite of passage, but knowing what to expect can make the difficult days more bearable.

The average baby starts teething around 6 months of age. As with any milestones, the timing of teeth can vary widely and bears no consequence on strength of teeth. Typically, the first two teeth to appear are the lower central incisors and baby teeth continue to erupt until about age 2-2.5 when the second molars come in, for a total of 20 primary teeth.  At such a young age, children cannot verbalize what it is they are feeling, which leads to the fussiness you so often hear about.  Common signs of teething are excessive drooling, mild irritability, poor appetite, swollen, red and inflamed gums, restlessness, and often times, chewing on fingers and toys.  Drooling can begin months before a tooth arrives, so be prepared with lots of bibs!

If your child is not affected by the process, consider yourself lucky! For those of you not so fortunate, there are a few things to try to help get your little one (and yourself) through this period.  First, a clean, wet washcloth that is placed in the freezer, is great for a baby to chew on.  The chill from the cloth will help relieve the irritation. Parents can also use a silicone finger brush to rub on the gum surface…just beware of finger bites! In our practice, we do not recommend topical agents such as Orajel, as it tends to stray from the area that is painful and is harmful if overused and your baby swallows too much. Children’s Tylenol can be used if your little one is extremely irritable or has a slight fever; be sure to check with your pediatrician for correct dosage.

Once those little teeth begin to appear, routine brushing is extremely important! You may begin with water, or fluoride-free training toothpaste if you’d prefer. While the training toothpastes do not offer any particular benefit, it is often sweet and makes brushing more pleasant for the hesitant brusher.

As with all baby stages, this too shall pass and before you know it, you will be talking about the Tooth Fairy as your child prepares to lose the very teeth that caused issues to begin with!

By Dr. Ozzie Jafarnia, DDS. Dr. A. Ozzie Jafarnia, or “Dr. Ozzie” as she is known to her patients grew up in the East Bay, and is proud to be Danville’s only American Board of Pediatric Dentistry certified dentist. She currently works at Danville Pediatric Dentistry located in Blackhawk Plaza Cir, Ste 203, Danville, Ca 94506,  (925) 837-7745.