Many pediatricians, scientists, researchers and parents
have disagreed about the concept of teething, but any
mother of a little one over the age of 1 year will tell you
that whether or not it’s just a coincidence their babies
are miserable when their teeth start coming in.
When newborns are born they have “teeth buds” just
under the gums, and while there is no set time that
those teeth will begin to appear, typically their first tooth
will begin to break through between five and seven
months. Some infants can begin teething as early as 3
months and some as late as 9 months to even a year.
Typically the incisors (top and bottom middle teeth)
appear between the age of six to seven months.
Between the ages of 7 to 9 months the incisors will
come in on each side of those first teeth that appeared.
Around the age of 8 months, a baby may have 8 teeth.
The first molars begin to break through at 10 to 14
months and the canines at 15 to 18 months. Finally, the
second molars will come in typically between the age of
2 to 3 years.
Many experts actually disagree about whether or not
teething even has symptoms, but most parents report
unique changes prior to the appearance of their infant’s
teeth. For instance, when a baby is teething their saliva
production increases. This has caused many symptoms
including drooling, which can sometimes cause a rash
on their chin, coughing or gagging on the excess saliva
and loose bowels due to swallowing that excess saliva.
Additional teething symptoms can be irritability or a
desire to gnaw on anything within grasp. The pressure
of the tooth trying to break through the gums can cause
discomfort leading to irritability. Many babies
instinctively reach for something to gnaw on as
pressure on the gums will sometimes counteract the
pressure caused by the teeth.
Most problematic for young parents is that teething
symptoms may very often be mistaken for common
childhood disorders. Pain from the gums can travel to
the cheek and even the ear causing an infant to rub
their cheek or tug on their ear. Many young parents are
taught to watch for this as a sign of an ear infection
and so, in response, a parent will take their child to the
pediatrician. The problem is that an irritable, teething
infant will probably have been crying as well which,
combined with the effects of teething, can lead to red
ear, commonly leading to a diagnosis of Otitis Media
and an unnecessary prescription for antibiotics.
It is very important as a parent to not be quick to accept
The American Academy of Pediatrics
(AAP) set new guidelines in 2004 to regulate overlyprescribed
antibiotics in the treatment of Otitis Media,
having found that prescriptions were being written
when they were not necessary.
The AAP suggests waiting 72-hours before giving a
child antibiotics as typically it can be water behind the
ear (or teething symptoms) causing a false diagnosis.
Another way to avoid getting an unnecessary antibiotic
prescription is to demand a culture test. There really is
no way to confirm Otitis Media without one.
Common Cold or Cutting Teeth
Another common childhood disorder confused with
teething is the common cold. Since teething can lead to
runny nose, mild/low-grade fever and coughing or
sneezing, many infants have been treated for a cold or
allergies when it was nothing more than a breaking or
It’s important to realize that our bodies were designed
to do things in a certain way and not everything needs
to be treated medically.
When Soothing Symptoms
Recognizing that there really isn’t anything that can be
done medically is little comfort to a parent who is
dealing with a fussy, cranky, miserable little baby.
Knowing what to do to ease their discomfort and relieve
some of the pain is empowering to a concerned parent
potentially feeling powerless.
Teething Symptoms and the Aware Parent
may very often be
mistaken for common
© 2010 The Wellness Family
The first thing to understand is that there are natural,
holistic choices, and it is never going to be necessary
to resort to pain relievers or gum-numbing agents.
These items can actually do more harm than good, and
aspirin should never be given to a baby even to rub on
their gums, as it has been linked with the potentially
deadly disease, Reye’s Syndrome.
Acetaminophen should also never be used, as the
long-term effects of the chemicals in pain relievers on
infants have not been recorded.
With regards to gum-numbing agents, while they have
been found to be effective, it is very dangerous.
Popular pediatrician, Dr. Sears says on his website,
“We do not recommend commercial gum-numbing
substances because it is difficult to learn their exact
contents and find research that validates their safety.”
The Right Way
The only over-the-counter teething treatment approved
by homeopathic and holistic professionals are teething
tablets. Designed specifically to help babies with their
teething symptoms, these tables dissolve immediately
in the mouth and naturally relieve swelling and pain.
Additionally, there are many home remedies that can
help to relieve pressure, pain and discomfort, bringing
peace to the baby and the household.
The first thing to understand is that the baby’s gums
are sore and aching. A sharp tooth is trying to push
through the gums and this is what is causing the
discomfort and resultant fussiness. Anything that will
counter-balance that pressure is going to bring relief.
Many parents have reported that a clean wet washcloth
put in the freezer for a short time, then given to the
baby to gnaw on brings welcome relief. The cloth can
be dipped in water or strong chamomile tea. The choice
of tea adds a calming agent and is soothing to an
infant’s tummy. Similarly, a frozen banana given to the
baby will give them something natural to gnaw on.
Some have suggested a frozen bagel, however, most
bagels are made with wheat or wheat byproducts and
giving these items to a child too soon can lead to food
allergies when they are older.
Ice in a sandwich bag, then wrapped in a cloth works
well, and for the older child already eating solid foods,
cold soft foods such as applesauce or diced papaya
can bring relief.
The most important thing to remember is not to use a
remedy if it isn’t something you would typically give
your child. Parents have been told to dip their finger in
Crème d’ Menthe (alcohol) and rub it on the baby’s
gums to “naturally” numb the gums and relieve the pain
while soothing the baby’s tummy. While all of that may
sound good in theory, remember that baby’s should not
be given alcohol.
The Chiropractic Factor
It’s important to not interfere with the natural routine of
teething. Every child is different, but teething has been
proven to be hereditary. If an infant’s parents’ first tooth
appeared when they were three months, then it’s safe
to assume this will be generational. It’s not even
unusual for a baby to be born with a tooth already in
place. Recognizing the body’s innate ability to work as
it was designed, Family Wellness Chiropractors guide
parents in natural ways to care for their children.
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