Teething

  • Medical Author:
    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

What home remedies provide relief for teething pain?

Teething infants often feel better when gentle pressure is placed on their gums. For this reason, many doctors recommend gently rubbing the gums with a clean finger or having the child bite down on a clean washcloth. If the pain seems to be causing feeding problems, sometimes a different shaped nipple or use of a cup may reduce discomfort and improve feeding. Cold objects many help reduce inflammation as well. Veteran parents have discovered the usefulness of frozen washcloths and ice cubes for this purpose. Be careful to avoid having prolonged contact of very cold objects on the gums. Never put anything in a child's mouth (including teething biscuits) that might make the child choke. Homeopathic preparations for teething should be viewed with caution since the purity and concentration of ingredients are not guaranteed. Such products are not subject to FDA (Food and Drug Administration) review.

How do I care for my baby's new teeth?

Oral hygiene may be started even before eruption of the first tooth. Twice-a-day cleaning of the gums using the washrag used for cleaning the face and hands after eating is effective and simple. Fluoride has been shown to be extremely effective in reducing the development and severity of cavities. Since fluoride amounts vary by water source, check with the child's pediatrician or dentist regarding any supplementation that may be necessary. Fluoride recommendations will be based upon fluoride concentration in water consumed and the age of the child. An excess of fluoride may cause fluorosis -- permanent staining of the teeth. Children's teeth seem most vulnerable during the first three years of life. For this reason, fluoridated toothpaste is rarely necessary for children less than 3 years of age. Maternal fluoride supplementation during pregnancy has not been shown to benefit fetal dental integrity or protect the child's baby or permanent teeth from cavity formation.

Infants and children should never take a bottle to their crib or bed. Formula, breast milk, cow's milk, soy milk, and juice all can be associated with cavity formation. Ingestion of sticky fruit (such as raisins) or other foods heavily laden with sugar (such as candy) is also associated with an increase in cavity formation.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/13/2016

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