Teething problems

When teeth start growing and breaking through the gums, this can cause many different problems for children and parents. Teething generally occurs around the age of 6 months, but it is not unusual for this process to start anywhere from 3 to 12 months of age. Up until the age of 3 years , your baby will have 20 primary teeth, which will be replaced by permanent teeth between the ages of 6 and 21 years of age.

The teething process is individual and the discomfort and intensity varies significantly from child to child. Some babies and toddlers show only one to two signs, whilst others experience a whole array of troubling symptoms. Most children experience one of the following problems when teething. Here is some helpful advice.

Drooling

Teething often causes excessive drooling which can result in irritation of the chin or cheeks. Wipe the drool off by patting the face with a clean, soft cloth and apply a protective cream (if you’re breastfeeding, your nipple cream will do).

Chewing everything they lay their hands on - constantly

Children do this in order to relieve the pressure caused by the teeth pushing up underneath the gums. You will notice your child gnawing on their blanket, clothes, toys, household items, their own hands, your hands - whatever is around.

You can offer your child some sanitized chilled chewing toys – a safe item to chew on which also offers a cooling feeling. You could also massage your child’s gums with your own finger or rub it with a chilled wet cloth. Just keep in mind that not all advice is good advice – a chilled carrot can be a choking hazard for your baby, while teething biscuits that contain sugar will put your child's teeth in danger of cavities as soon as they appear.

Another way of relieving painful gums is using teething gels, which can offer a soothing relief. If you keep these gels in the fridge, they will provide a cooling effect as well. Another trick is to apply the teething gel to a chewing toy on places where it comes into direct contact with the gums.

Pulling ears and rubbing cheeks

This is a sign that your child is experiencing painful gums. Again, chewing toys, a chilled cloth and teething gel can help release some of the pressure and reduce the amount of pain your child is experiencing. Ear pulling could also be a sign of an ear infection, so make sure to rule that out first.

You may notice that your child’s face is looking red – one red cheek is often a sign of teething, appearing on the side of the face where the tooth is supposed to emerge. However, if both cheeks are red, it may be a sign of fever, which may not be connected to teething, and could be a symptom of an infection. Check your baby’s temperature – if it is higher than 102°F or 38.9°C, do visit your physician.

Loss of appetite

Your child may find it very uncomfortable to chew on solids. Cool, soft foods may offer some relief – you could offer your child foods like applesauce, smoothie, mashed fruit, frozen bananas or fruit yoghurt.

Agitated behavior

Even though some babies go through teething without much fuss, for others teething can be very stressful due to the discomfort they feel. This can manifest as agitated behavior, crying often with no apparent reason, having trouble sleeping and restlessness. Besides some usual remedies that may help with teething pains, your love and support can be one of the most important factors in soothing a restless baby. During this period, offer even more cuddles and kisses than usual, and your baby may find some comfort and rest in your arms.

Bleeding gums

This is no cause for concern in teething infants. Sometimes, as the tooth is erupting, it can cause a small blister filled with blood, or a small, firm haematoma -an area where a small amount of blood is trapped underneath the gums. The blister may pop and you’ll notice a small amount of blood in your child’s mouth. You could ask your physician to drain it if it’s causing you concern, but usually it will disappear when the tooth comes through.