'Be Healthy, Stay Healthy' Issue 11: No Grieving Over Teething
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Does the baby’s smile look a bit ... cuter? The first tooth!
A baby’s first tooth can be a significant milestone, though it may also cause slight discomfort. Teething typically begins anytime around 6 months to one year. During this time, babies will drool, have increased saliva and put their hands in their mouths. Their gums may be slightly swollen and their body temperature may slightly rise.
It is important to know that a true fever — which is a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit — is not associated with teething and is actually a sign of an illness or infection.
To soothe teething discomfort, parents can try using a cold washcloth or a solid teething toy that was placed in the freezer. For severe discomfort, ask your pediatrician about the appropriate dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol). Avoid over-the-counter teething tablets since many are known to have toxic components. Amber teething necklaces may look pretty but are actually a choking and strangulation hazard.
Once a child has teeth, the brushing fun can begin. Start with using a small smear, the size of a grain of rice, of fluorinated toothpaste on a baby toothbrush twice a day. Once the child turns 3, increase the amount of toothpaste to pea-sized. Remember to supervise and assist your child’s brushing techniques until they are able to do it independently, usually around the ages of 6 or 7.
Tooth care means visits to the pediatric or family dentist every six months. Cavities are the most common chronic medical problems, even more common than allergies and asthma. Taking care of teeth early on helps build long-lasting healthy habits.
A Grandma used to say, only brush the teeth you want to keep.