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Signs of teething

Teething can be a very stressful period for both the child and the parents. Signs of teething usually appear for the first time around six months of age, but sometimes they happen earlier. The teething process normally ends around the age of 3 years, when all milk teeth have developed. But around the age of 6 years the entire process begins again, this time with permanent teeth replacing the baby ones.

The teething process is normally accompanied by a whole array of symptoms, which occur around four days before the tooth shows up and last for another three days. Teeth usually grow in pairs and in most children the first teeth to show up are lower central incisors, or the two lower front teeth. The timespan between the teeth showing up is very individual and it differs from one child to another. However, there is a general schedule which can help you understand what you can expect when it comes to teething.

Teething symptoms

Symptoms of teething vary greatly between children, since for some it can be only a mild unpleasant process that lasts for a couple of days, while for others it can be very uncomfortable and longer lasting.

Common symptoms and signs include:

  • Swollen, red gums
  • Drooling (more than the usual amount)
  • Rubbing the gums
  • Biting, chewing or sucking on anything they can reach – toys, fingers, household items, etc.
  • Redness of the face and cheeks, sometimes even warm cheeks
  • Rubbing the ear on the side where the tooth is expected to come out
  • Reduced appetite, especially for solid food, since chewing is uncomfortable
  • Problems sleeping and waking up more during the night. Some parents claim that the symptoms worsen during the night – the reason is probably that the child is sleepy and tired, therefore more nervous, so everything escalates more than it would during the day.
  • Irritability
  • Crying more than usual
  • Cough or gag reflex – excessive drool can make your child gag or cough. Unless your child has any other issues, such as a cold or allergies, this shouldn’t cause problems with breathing.

What you can do to help your baby

We know it’s hard to hear your child cry inconsolably, while feeling there is nothing you can do to help. A little bit of comforting goes a long way, so don’t hesitate to give your baby lots of cuddles.

There are a few additional things you can try to make the teething process a little bit easier. Learn more about the teething remedies that can help reduce the symptoms, such as cooling gels for painful gums. Also, provide your child with a plentiful supply of safe toys they can chew on and use to massage their gums.

Excessive drooling can cause soreness and irritation of your child’s chin, so do make sure to clean the chin with a soft cloth as often as possible. You could also protect the gentle skin of the chin with an oily cream (nipple cream will do).

One more important note

Some experts connect diarrhea and fever with teething symptoms, however, do keep in mind that any fever higher than 102°F or 38.9°C shouldn’t be considered as a sign of teething, but rather a cause to seek medical help. Mild diarrhea could be caused by all the extra drooling that your child produces during the teething process, however, severe diarrhea should not be ignored. If you notice any of these two symptoms, contact your physician to determine the real cause of the problems.