Teething-easing the pain
While it’s true that some babies sail through teething without a care in the world, the majority do suffer from painful gums, as well as diarrhoea and tummy upsets caused by the extra acidity in the mouth during teething.
Most babies start to teeth around 6 months old, although some babies are born with their first teeth there already. Others start teething before they are four months old, and some after 12 months. Early teething should not cause a child any problems, unless it affects their feeding. Signs of teething range from irritability and red cheeks to excessive dribbling. You may be able to feel the ridge of the tooth just below the gum, and the gum may be red and swollen at this point.
Usually, the first teeth to emerge are the bottom front teeth, followed by the top front teeth, upper and lower side teeth, upper and lower molars, followed by the upper and lower canines, and the second molars last of all.
How to ease the distress
Different types of teething aids are available, from the simple plastic “teething ring” to teethers filled with gel which can be cooled in the fridge to ease painful gums. Gels which you rub onto babies' gums can also help ease the pain. Homeopathic granules that babies ‘crunch’ against their gums can also be relief.
Giving your baby something safe to chew on can be both a relief and a distraction if they are in pain. Teething toys can now be bought depending on which teeth are coming through, as babies may need harder toys when, for example, molars come through.
Try giving your baby crunchy food like raw carrot or toast, which can help ease the pain and also promotes strong jaw muscles. Make sure the food you give does not pose a choking hazard.
Massaging your finger over the swollen gum may help, but some babies won’t let you near their mouths when they are teething.
Systemic analgesics like bonjela can help to temporarily numb the gums, but again it depends whether your baby will let you apply it.
Comfort, distract and change your baby’s scenery to help distract him from the pain of teething. Remember that adults don’t cope with toothache very well and your baby might teethe for the most part of their second year — a great deal of patience and cuddles as well as teething aids is the best you can do for your baby.
Have a look at our Experts section for advice and tips on teething.