How To Survive The Teething Stage And Beyond

Did you know that you need to start thinking about your baby’s oral health as soon as you conceive? We know, you have a gazillion thoughts on your mind right now, but if you want fewer surprises when it comes to your child’s dental health, read on. We can fill you in on your baby’s oral care from conception to the first dental visit. And that includes the wonderful teething stage.

Don’t get me wrong, not all babies have a terrible time with teething. But many infants do, so let’s put the facts on ice here. To start from the beginning, as soon as you learn that you have a baby on board, be diligent in getting the required amount of Vitamin D. Studies show that taking Vitamin D while pregnant will give your baby a good start to dental health, ensuring strong teeth and bones. 

It's also believed that if you are low in Vitamin D when carrying your child, you may be setting the baby up for early tooth decay. Another standout piece of wisdom you will be glad to learn is, if at all possible avoid the antibiotic tetracycline after the fourth month of pregnancy because there is a pronounced risk of causing your baby’s teeth to stain. 

What we’re saying here is not only the baby teeth, but sometimes even the adult teeth later in life. Tetracycline can cause calcification that results in graying or yellowing of developing teeth. Here’s a look at 8 ways to survive the teething process and some pointers on giving your baby the best chance possible for a set of beautiful pearly whites.

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8 Signs of Teething

The stages of tooth development are as follows:

-a six week old fetus is forming the basic tooth substances

-at 3 to 4 months gestation, the hard tissue that surrounds the teeth forms

-the third stage is when the teeth break through the gum surface anywhere between 3 to 12 months

-the loss of primary teeth is called the final stage.

Right off the bat, we need to clarify that there are many symptoms that may indicate baby’s first teeth are in motion and ready to break through the gums. The signs may show as a combination, or appear in one simple way.

Teething symptoms usually only last a few days as the teeth (the first few usually arrive in pairs) break through the gum. Teething is the cause of a wide variety of symptoms, which may seem totally unrelated, when in fact they are all tied to the incoming tooth.

Not All Children Get the Same Teething Symptoms

The symptoms most commonly attributed to teething are varied from child to child. Drooling and biting on fingers - or anything within reach are signs of gum discomfort. Babies often like to bite on things to relieve oral pain.

Not wanting to nurse or eat may be a worrisome symptom, but no worries, it won’t go on forever. Pulling on the ears, sleeplessness, crying and general irritability go along with teething, too.

Your child may have a low fever and a runny nose. The discharge should be clear. If there is fever and an accompanying cough, along with a thick discharge, you may want to get baby checked out by the pediatrician.

If you are not sure if the problem is teething, or the symptoms seem much worse than they should for a teething infant, make an appointment for a visit to the doctor.

●The bottom line is, this is a stage that cannot be avoided. Grin and bear it - it doesn’t last forever.

Some of our babies breeze right through the teething days. Others seem to feel the effects much more, and give you lots of notice that the pearly whites are on their way. 

7 Teething Aids

Now, there are plenty of teething aids out there that can help the little tykes we love so much traverse their times of teething troubles. When your child does reach the point when all primary teeth have come in, he will then have 20 baby teeth. Yes, this means a LOT of night waking and crankiness, if the teething stage does affect your wee one in this way.

Some of the coolest teething aids come in true designer fashion, while others are tried and true traditional methods.

Teething toys that you can chill are excellent. Babies seem to love the teething ring as the cold helps to numb and soothe baby’s tender gums. Be careful not to freeze the teething toys completely though; if they are too hard, they can injure baby’s gums.

●A good old fashioned recipe for pain relief is wetting a clean baby facecloth and putting it in a baggy in the fridge. Pull it out when your sweet one is fussing and she will love to suck and bite on it. Pressure on the teeth seems to provide quick relief for most infants.

Don't Rely on Medication for Teething Pains

Topical medications such as baby Orajel are not recommended as accidental numbing of the throat may occur.

●Choosing to use homeopathic remedies or acetaminophen are personal decisions, but you should always check with your child’s pediatrician first for their opinion and suggestions.

●Never give aspirin to a child because of risk of Reye’s Syndrome, a rare but very serious illness.

There are other aids available also such as teething tablets and necklaces, the effects which are less documented in regards to success. A bit of cool pressure and a lot of attention and snuggling goes a long way in the teething stage.

6 Breastfeeding and Teething

Speaking from experience, with one of my munchkins in particular, I can attest to the fact that baby’s teething can cause a few issues for a breastfeeding mom.

Don’t get me wrong, many moms and babes breeze right through the teething stage and do not face any breastfeeding battles. For a fact, some children do not display symptoms at all and many moms are none the wiser until they see the little white tooth poking through the gum.

But for those infants who may be having a tough time of it, breastfeeding just doesn’t cut it. You see, some of our little nurslings can’t do just that; nursing and the sucking motion that comes with it, can be very uncomfortable. A child who exhibits ear pain when teething may also experience pain when nursing, essentially because it’s all connected if you know what I mean.

Babies Need the Comfort From the Pain

On the other hand, many babies will want to nurse constantly - it can be a comfort of sorts and indeed eases the pain for some.

If you do have an issue with your little papoose not wanting to nurse as a result of teething, keeping your milk flowing is key to establishing the nursing again once the painful period is over.

●Try nursing your little one when they are sleepy; the comfort may be something they want again - and the comfort may win over the discomfort.

●If you are giving your child teething medication, administer it about 30 minutes before you plan to nurse. This may help.

●Nurse your baby while in motion. Walking or rocking can provide a distraction from pain.

●If there is no way your child wants to nurse for a few days, try giving them breast milk in a sippy cup or with a syringe.

Be sure to express your milk in order to keep the supply up and to prevent clogged ducts.

5 First Dentist Visit

Many moms ask the question, when is the best time for my child’s first visit to the dentist?

Most dentists agree that the first visit your child makes to the dentist should be within 6 months from the time that the first teeth make their appearance. A second visit 6 months later is also recommended. This way, the progress of your baby’s teeth can be monitored and you can ask questions and discuss any concerns you may have. 

The goal of an early dentist visit is to get advice and a head start on good dental hygiene, and to check for potential problems that may arise. It is best to be aware early, rather than wait for a visit at the age of 2 or three years.

Choose a Dentist You're Comfortable With

The very first visit will most likely be comprised of a simple check up. Often baby will sit in your arms in the chair, in order to meet the dentist and learn that this stranger is a nice person and the dentist chair is nothing to be afraid of. No offense intended to any of you mom or dad dentists, out there - but the dentist chair is not my fave place!

●Choose a pediatric dentist for your child. They have additional training over and above the dentistry, specifically so they can deal with nervous children or kids with special needs.

●A pediatric dentist can teach you the proper method of cleaning an infant’s teeth and offer tips on tooth and gum care.

Several visits to the dentist at a young age will ensure your child is comfortable with the dentist from the get go. That is a bonus for sure.

4 Toothpaste and Toothbrush

Dentists and doctors strongly recommend that you clean your infant’s gums by rubbing gently with a soft, wet facecloth. As soon as the first tooth pokes through the gums, you may begin to use a toothbrush. For certain, a very small infant toothbrush which has super soft bristles is the proper tool to use on a small baby.

Once your little angel face has become accustomed to the toothbrush, you may begin using a small amount of toothpaste. Of course, your child must be of the age at which he is capable of spitting out the toothpaste. Choose a non fluoride paste for children under two, as too much fluoride can definitely stain your baby’s teeth. 

Brush your child’s teeth until he has the dexterity and the complete understanding of how to do it properly and thoroughly himself, which is usually only when he reaches school age.

Oral Hygiene is Very Important for Babies

●Do not scrub the teeth too hard. Use a gentle circular stroke so you do not damage the enamel or gums.

Always brush before bedtime to avoid tooth decay. Provide only water as a thirst quencher once the night time brushing is done.

●An important habit everyone (adults included here) needs to include in their night time routine is flossing. Set a good example for your kids, and hey - it’s best for your dental health to floss daily.

When bacteria come into contact with sugars from foods, the result is an acid which causes cavities.

Good oral hygiene is essential to good health for a lifetime. Kudos to you for working hard at it and for keeping up regular dental visits for your child.

3 Fluoride

The regular use of fluoride for children’s dental care is still not a clearly defined subject and is up for debate. The main concern, I think with fluoride is the risk of fluorosis, a change in the tooth enamel of our kids, which can possibly occur after too much fluoride use.

Let’s get the story straight here - fluoride occurs naturally in varying amounts in water sources such as rivers, lakes and oceans. Hey, I will admit that I did not know that tidbit of information. I guess that kind of reveals the fact that I for one was not concerned with the fluoride treatments of my kids in the early days of parenting. 

We drink filtered water, the kids get a strawberry or banana fluoride treatment at each dentist visit - and I just checked the toothpaste tube, which states fluoridated. For the record, my kids teeth are white and knock on wood, no cavities ever.

Always Check With Your Doctor About Fluoride and Other Health Issues

●Fluoride makes the surface of teeth stronger and more able to resist decay.

●Check the packaging of the toothpaste to make sure it is appropriate for the age of your child.

●Ask your pediatrician or dentist if you are concerned about your child’s fluoride intake.

●Swallowing large amounts of fluoride in toothpaste can cause diarrhea and vomiting.

●Choose a toothpaste that does not have a fruity flavor so there is less chance of a desire to swallow.

Whether or not you supplement your child’s fluoride treatments with additional sources is a personal decision which should be based on the condition of your infant’s teeth through the teething stages, as well as the advice given to you by your trusted pediatric dentist.

2 Pacifiers and Thumb Sucking

Let’s make one thing clear; the use of pacifiers is again, a personal decision only you can make, and the thumb sucking issue - well, I believe that is something your child decides upon.

There are many pros and cons that go along with pacifier use. For example, experts believe that pacifier use might help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome because infants who use a pacifier do not sleep as deeply as non pacifier users.

Truth be told, we see plenty of bambinos snoozing happily in their strollers, giving attestation to the belief that this item soothes baby with the sucking motion which has a natural calming effect. Some parents choose to give a pacifier to aid in getting a child to sleep. Dentists caution against the use of pacifiers beyond the age of two as they can interfere with tooth alignment.

To Thumb Suck or Not, That Is the Question

Thumb sucking is a whole different story as the child is making the decision when to suck and how often. The issue with thumb sucking is that it can have significant impact on the development and spacing of your child’s teeth and furthermore, can change the shape of the roof of your child’s mouth. 

I think another matter of concern for parents is that it can be more difficult to wean a child from thumb sucking than from the pacifier, simply because you do not have complete control over when your child stops the use.

●There is also increased risk of ear infection in kids who use pacifiers.

●Use an orthodontic pacifier.

●If you are trying to wean your child off of their pacifier, offer to trade it for a new book - then get rid of all pacifiers in the house.

●If you're having problems getting your child to stop sucking her thumb, tell her she can still do it at night, in bed only - and go from there.

Praise her when she is not sucking her thumb, rather than chastising when she does.

What the story is here, is that use of a pacifier, or allowing your child to suck his thumb should be for a short time only to reduce the risk of dental problems when permanent teeth come in.

1 Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Do you sometimes put your wee babe to bed with his bottle? Did you know that this can cause sugars found in milk and formula to pool around baby’s teeth leading straight to tooth decay?

During sleep, the flow of saliva decreases which allows the liquids to stay on the teeth for a prolonged period of time. Sure, allowing your little one to fall asleep on the bottle once in awhile is probably okay if you have no alternative at that time, but this is a habit that must be broken - whether it is your habit to use the bottle as a sleep aid or your baby’s desire to fall asleep while sipping. 

Baby bottle tooth decay can truly be a serious problem affecting the front upper and lower teeth in particular.

How Can You Prevent Infant Tooth Decay?

●Breast milk alone is the healthiest food for your infant’s teeth.

●Children should be drinking from a sippy cup rather than a baby bottle by 12 to 14 months.

●Rather than supplying a bottle of milk or juice, offer water only. If this proves difficult, gradually weaken the contents of the bottle with water over a period of a few weeks until the bottle contains water only.

Of course, if you breastfeed exclusively, you will not have a problem weaning your child off the baby bottle.

Yes, even after our heroic efforts throughout the teething stages, our children may still get a cavity. This is precisely why early dentist visits are so important for our kids. Don’t blame yourself if your child needs dental intervention - you have tried your best and that is exactly what you should have done. Continue your good efforts, and apply them to every member of your family.

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