The experience of teething can be surprising and uncomfortable for children. Knowing what to do as a parent is important, not only for your child’s comfort (or for your own sanity and peace of mind) but also to make sure that your teething infant’s gums stay healthy along the way.
To help you navigate this crucial time, we’ve put together some key tips and tricks to support your infant’s gum health throughout their teething period.
Know What to Expect
The time at which your baby starts to teeth can vary widely, but in general, you might expect your infant to start teething by about six months of age, although it’s perfectly normal for them to experience teething as early as just a few months or as late as a year. A teething infant’s gums tend to sprout the two front teeth (incisors) first. The lower teeth often coming in first, although this is not always the case. Symptoms of teething include irritability, disrupted sleep, increased drooling, and a tendency toward biting.
Engage in Good Oral Hygiene Practices
When it comes to keeping a teething infant’s gums healthy, top-notch oral hygiene is more important than ever. From an early age, infants and toddlers benefit from good dental and periodontal practices, including consuming healthy food and drinks, routine cleaning with age-appropriate materials, and getting regular dental checkups.
For infants who are just beginning to teethe, parents can clean the teeth with a very small amount of toothpaste – just about the size of a single grain of rice – with extremely gentle motions and a soft bristle brush. The amount of toothpaste used can increase to the size of a small pea as your child learns how to spit and starts taking some ownership of his or her oral hygiene habits, typically by the age of three.
Help Reduce Pain
There are a number of measures parents can take to help their infant navigate the pain and stress of teething. Here are just a few of our favorite soothing remedies for a teething infant’s gums:
- A gentle gum massage can help ease pain naturally. With clean fingertips or a damp piece of soft, non-toxic fabric, carefully massage your baby’s gums with a tender circular motion.
- Apply cool pressure directly to your teething infant’s gums with a clean, refrigerator-chilled washcloth or a metal spoon that’s been chilled in the fridge (not the freezer).
- Try a home remedy or pain reliever that’s been approved by your pediatric dentist. These can range from over-the-counter medications designed specifically for infants to teething rings.
During their teething period, it can be challenging to differentiate between natural pain and something more serious or unexpected. Keep an eye on a teething infant’s gums to ensure that the emerging teeth and the surrounding area look healthy and normal. While some inflammation is to be expected, excessive redness or swelling can be a red flag, as can other forms of discoloration. If you’re unsure whether a particular sign is normal, contact your pediatric dental care provider.
Keep Regular Dental Appointments
One of the most important factors in protecting your child’s oral health is to keep regular dental appointments. The Mayo Clinic recommends a first dental appointment around the time of your child’s first birthday. Since most infants will have begun teething by 12 months, this is a great time to check on your teething infant’s gums and make sure your little one’s oral hygiene is at its best.
To schedule an appointment, or for help ensuring optimal tooth and gum health for your child, we invite you to get in touch with Children’s Dentistry of Las Vegas. We look forward to helping your child build a lifetime of oral hygiene habits for a healthy, beautiful smile.