Teething Ring | Teething Remedy


What Is Teething?

Teething is the process during which your baby's teeth begin to break through the gums. Your child is born with all twenty of its milk teeth; you just can't see them, as they are submerged beneath its gums.

Occasionally, some infants are born with one or two of their teeth already protruding, or a tooth can emerge within the first few weeks. Unless the tooth is loose - in which case there is a risk of choking - it is not something to be worried about; just get it checked out by your doctor. Exactly when a baby starts to teeth can be hard to pin-point. Teething can begin as early as three months or as late as one year. If your child begins teething before 3 months or hasn't begun teething by one year of age you should probably see your doctor. Again, there is no need to panic; each baby is unique. However, most babies begin the teething process somewhere between five and seven months. It can take several years for all of your child's deciduous (milk teeth) to appear. The first teeth to appear are usually the two bottom front teeth, also known as the central incisors. These are usually followed one or two months later by the four front upper teeth (central and lateral incisors). About 1 month later, the lower lateral incisors (the two teeth flanking the bottom front teeth) will appear. Next to break through the gums are the first molars (the back teeth used for grinding food), then finally the eyeteeth (the pointy teeth in the upper jaw). Most children have all 20 of their primary teeth by their third birthday.

Cutting the first tooth is usually the most painful or uncomfortable for a child. Having said that, it can also be the emerging of the larger molars that can cause the most discomfort. You'll no doubt have noticed just how important the mouth is to your baby. More than any other part of the body, your child explores their world using its mouth. Even if the emerging tooth is not painful, it certainly will be a distraction for your baby and can cause the crankiness you see. As an adult you will know the feeling of annoyance when you get a new filling, bite the side of your mouth or simply have a piece of food stuck between your teeth. Now imagine how it must be to experience this for the first time; the feeling of distraction increased many fold.

Despite what you might think, teething doesn't stop when your child has their full set of milk teeth. From around the age of six the permanent (adult teeth) will begin to appear, and the symptoms - and problems - of teething may appear a second time round. First will appear the central incisors, then about a year later, the lateral incisors. At around nine to ten years, the first and second premolar (Bicuspid) will push through. Your child should have his canine teeth about the age of twelve.


When Does Teething Start?

All babies are not the same, so predicting when your child will begin teething - and recognizing the signs of teething - isn't an exact science. Some children are born with one or two teeth already protruding, whilst others will not have their first tooth until around one year of age. Having said that, the diagram below does give an indication of what teeth will erupt first and what teeth will be the first to fall out.

Your baby is born with a set of 20 teeth hidden beneath the gums. Teething is the process of these teeth working their way through the gums. The first teeth normally appear between six and 10 months of age with the rest following over the next two to three years. Teeth usually emerge in pairs. This is a guide; each child is different.

It is important that these first teeth are kept healthy, as they each keep a place for the adult teeth that come later. The natural loss of a baby's first teeth and arrival of adult teeth usually happens between the ages of six years and 12 years. The first adult molars to appear are four molars. They come in behind the baby molars.

The process of teething can usually be broken down into five distinct stages - although some babies will not follow this at all.

Stage 1. Teething discomfort can start well before teeth even come through. You can often feel the teeth that are about to merge; gently run the tip of your finger over your baby's gums. You should be able to feel the teeth just below the gum.

Stage 2. The first four teeth (the incisors) are usually the first to appear. seeing the emergency of the first tooth is often a happy occasion for parents. Teeth often emerge in pairs. It is usually the two upper teeth that erupt first.

Stage 3. The first molars follow next - they sit right behind the canine teeth.

Stage 4. The cannines then follow.

Stage 4. The second molars are usually the last to appear. For many babies, the emergence of these large teeth can often be the most painful.

Teething Symptoms

Spotting the signs of teething is a little bit of an art form. Many first time mothers attribute certain signs as being symptoms of teething when, in fact, they having nothing at all to do with it. Likewise, it is possible to miss the onset of teething and to attribute your child's crying and crankiness to something else.

Signs that your baby is teething

•Swollen or inflamed gums - regularly inspect your child's gums. You should be able to see the actual outline of the teeth before they erupt through the gums. Pay special attention to the lower, middle gums as this is where the first teeth are likely to appear.

•Crankiness - if your child's mood suddenly takes a turn for the worse, inspect his mouth. Of course this change of behavior could be due to something else but there's no harm in checking.

•Drooling - excessive drooling is a classic sign that your baby is teething. This excessive drooling may also produce, what is known as, drooling rash. Don't panic, this is temporary and will disappear once your baby stops drooling. Also, drooling can cause your baby to cough. Again, don't worry; this will stop when the drooling stops. There is now some doubt that excessive drooling is caused by teething. Many experts now believe that drooling may just be a natural part of oral development; the fact that it usually occurs around the time of teething is a coincidence - or maybe not. Teething isn't an exact science!

•Excessive chewing - some babies will chew on anything that is to hand when they begin to teeth. Mothers who are breastfeeding are bound to notice this symptom - our hearts go out to them.

•Waking up at night - if your baby has been sleeping well through the night but is now waking up once or twice and is displaying signs of irritability upon waking, this may also be symptomatic of teething.

•A small rise in temperature - a barely noticeable rise in temperature can occur in some babies. It will not cause a fever. If you suspect your baby does have a fever go and see your doctor immediately.

•Diarrhea - teething and diarrhea can occur in some babies. This should pass quickly. If it doesn't then go and see your doctor for advice on how to stop the diarrhea.
Recognizing the signs of teething isn't a straight forward matter. Each child is different; the pain level or discomfort that a baby can tolerate varies from baby to baby. It probably won't be one of the above signs but a combination of teething signs that a mother will notice and lead her to suspect that her child is teething.


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Teething Rings

A lot of mothers prefer to use teething rings over any other means in alleviating the discomfort of baby teething. Unlike gels they are believed to be free of chemicals, and unlike teething biscuits there is no risk of baby digesting too much sugar, salt or any other food stuff that they don't need to eat. Teething rings have been around a long time and have come in all shapes and sizes.

The history of the teething ring

Teething rings have been around for thousands of years. The first recorded use has been found on Sumerian sandstone tablets, around 3000 years ago. The Egyptians used coral teething rings and they had a head of Bes inscribed, a god associated with child welfare. They also wore a child's first shed tooth as an amulet against the pains of teething. Parents in the 1600s used white candy sticks as teething rings for their children - hmmm, not sure that this was a good idea! Gum sticks and gum rings were also used in the 17th and 18th centuries. Wax candles were popular as gum sticks, as well as sticks of liquorice dipped in honey.

Legend has it that in 1683 in Vienna, Austria, a local Jewish baker wanted to thank the king of Poland for protecting his countrymen from Turkish invaders. As bagels gained popularity in Poland, they were officially sanctioned as gifts for women in childbirth and mentioned in community registers. Mothers used them as nutritious teething rings that their infants could easily grasp - a practice still popular today.

The expression 'born with a silver spoon in his mouth' comes from the nineteenth century, when it was common practice for well-off parents to use a silver spoon as an aid to relieve the discomfort of teething. The well-healed also like to use teething rings made from mother-of-pearl.

During the mid-nineteenth century gum rings were manufactured using rubber. Within a few short years rubber had replaced other materials such as coral, bone, ivory and bread-crusts. The early rubber teething rings came in three colours, white, blue and black. Unfortunately, the white rubber models contained large quantities of lead!


What types of teething rings can you buy?

Today there are many different types of teething rings available. Thankfully, they are free of lead! In fact, all rings bought in most western countries are nontoxic, so you can rest assured that no matter what kind you buy, it will be safe for your baby. Some are made of firm rubber (with or without bumps); others are filled with water and made to be chilled in the refrigerator. Don't freeze these types of rings or teethers because they become too hard and may harm your baby's gums. For those of you who consider your self as upper-crust (only kidding), you can buy silver teething rings. These can also be chilled in the fridge.

Clean teething rings, teethers, and toys after each use. Check the package label to see if the object is dishwasher-safe. It is highly recommended that after you clean your child's teething ring, you place it in a bottle sterilizer. Don't boil water-filled teethers because they may break open.

Never tie an object such as a teething ring or pacifier around your baby's neck. The cord could tighten and choke the baby or, at the very least, irritate his or her skin.

A note of caution

During the last few years, concern has been raised over the use of diisononyl phthalate in plastic teethers. This chemical is used as a softening agent during the manufacturing process and most teething toys contain about 10 to 20 percent phthalate. This chemical is believed to be cancer causing and the fear is that babies may ingest the chemical as they suck on the ring. The Consumer Product Safety Commission have advised parents to dispose of Gerber Products Inc. Clear and Soft line of pacifiers, nipples and teething toys. These products contain diisononyl phthalate. The following manufacturers have stopped or will stop using phthalate in teething toys by early 2000: Sassy, Hasbro, Tyco Preschool, Shelcore Toys, The First Years, Safety 1st, Playskool, Chicco, Little Tikes, Disney, Fisher-Price, Mattel and EvenFlo. Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Germany and Belgium have already proposed a complete ban on soft toys that contain phthalates. Although the U.S. warning stopped short of complete prohibition, Sears, Walmart, K-mart, Toys R Us and Target vowed not to sell toys that contain phthalate.

The concerns raised by the Consumer Product Safety Commission are only precautionary and it is still a matter of debate if diisononyl phthalate found is teething rings could cause cancer. If you wish to avoid teething rings that contain diisononyl phthalate then best bet is to buy ones made of latex or silicone.

Do look after you child's teething ring. Throw away a ring if it is damaged in anyway; rough edges can cut your baby's gums and inner mouth and bent or misshapen teething rings have been known to be swallowed by children.

Do's and Dont's of teething rings

Do's
•It is preferable to use a teething ring instead of teething biscuits or cookies.
•Cool liquid filled rings in the refrigerator but never freeze
•Throw out a liquid filled ring if it leaks, or if a ring is damaged in anyway
•Always thoroughly wash teething rings after use.

Don'ts

•Never, ever freeze liquid filled teething rings. They may burst or crack if frozen.
•Never boil teething rings or put them in the dishwasher (unless the manufacturer instructions say it is dishwasher safe).
•Your baby's teething ring is their teething ring; never share.
•Don't tie the teething ring to the baby with a string. This could strangle the baby.
•Don't use a teething ring made of several parts. Small pieces can break off and cause the baby to choke.
Teething Remedies - teething biscuits, teething rings, teething gel and natural teething remedies

Spotting the signs of teething is a little bit of an art form. Many first time mothers attribute certain signs as being symptoms of teething when, in fact, they having nothing at all to do with it. Likewise, it is possible to miss the onset of teething and to attribute your child's crying and crankiness to something else.

Teething biscuits have had a bad press of late. Store bought biscuits used to contain high levels of salts, sugar and other foodstuffs that aren't good for very young infants. Things are changing and most store bought teething biscuits now contain levels as recommended by various food agencies. Nowadays you can buy a plethora of organic, whole grain teething biscuits.

Whether teething biscuits should be given to babies is debatable. Chewing on something does help alleviate the pain felt by many babies. From a nutritional aspect, they are unnecessary as babies will already be getting their nutritional needs from breast milk, formula milk or baby solid food. If your child is already eating solids then there is no harm in giving them teething biscuits, especially if she is already able to hold on to something as she eats it. The teething biscuit should not break up in your baby's mouth as this can cause choking. Try out the biscuit yourself; if the biscuit dissolves away, rather than breaks up, then it is probably safe to give to your baby.

There is an advantage from a development point of view, inasmuch as chewing on teething biscuits help your child to learn to feed itself.

Teething rings have been around a long time and are an old time teething remedy. Many mothers prefer to give their child a teething ring above all other remedies to aid teething pain. They offer many advantages over other remedies. For a more detailed review, read our Teething Ring article.

Teething Gel should only be given as a last resort and only after consultation with your doctor. Most baby teething gels contain a mild analgesic that act as a painkiller. Many teething gels also contain mild antiseptics that kill a variety of bacteria and fungi that might infect sore or broken skin in the mouth. Teething gel is applied by gently rubbing the gel directly onto the gums. They can provide quick relief to your baby's discomfort. It is quite safe to breastfeed whilst using teething gel.

A note on teething gels: Experts caution against the excessive use of teething gels as they contain benzocaine. There is a risk of allergic reaction. In addition, benzocaine can cause numbing of the throat and could lead to choking. Consult your doctor if you want to help relieve your child's pain with benzocaine.

Teething tablets dissolve quickly in your child's mouth to provide pain relief. The active ingredients are usually Chamomilla, which helps reduce irritability, and Belladonna, which helps reduce inflammation. As with teething gel, you should speak to your doctor before using, especially if you're breastfeeding.

Natural teething remedies have always been around and are now back in vogue. There is a plethora of natural remedies available. The following is a list, though by no means complete.

•Cool bottle of water - a simple but effective solution. The coldness numbs the gums and eases pain.

•Rub your finger against your child's gums - this mimics the chewing on a teething ring or teething biscuit. Make sure your hands are clean.

•A cool damp cloth - a sort of mixture of cold water bottle and mom's finger.

•Entertain your Child - Sometimes a simple distraction can help your baby forget his pain temporarily.

•Various herbal tinctures - there are now many herbal remedies available to help ease baby teething pains.

•Cold food - let your baby suck on cold pieces of fruit or vegetables. Cold banana is a favourite. It doesn't tend to break up but dissolves in your baby's mouth making it quite safe. Also, another old fashioned approach is to let baby suck on a cold carrot: if your baby has already got teeth be careful that she doesn't bite off a piece - as there is a potential risk of choking.
Giving a child something to chew on rather than using gels or other herbal remedies has the advantage of being free of all possible side effects.

Teething and Tooth Hygiene

Baby bottle tooth decay can start as soons as your baby begins to teeth. Even though your child will eventually lose all its milk teeth, tooth decay will speed up this process. Milk teeth act as spacers for permanent teeth and tooth decay can lead to gaps before the permanent teeth are ready to come in. The remaining milk teeth may then clump together in an attempt to fill in the gaps, which may cause the permanent teeth to come in crooked and out of place. Therefore daily dental care is extremly important, even before your child's first tooth emerges.


How to prevent infant tooth decay

As well as cleaning your baby's gums and teeth you can help prevent tooth decay by following the following advice.

The biggest cause of tooth decay in young babies is baby bottle tooth decay. Formula milk usually contains more sugar than breast milk. The sugar mixed with bacteria, moisture and warmth is what causes tooth decay. The practice of putting a baby to bed with a bottle, which the baby can suck on for hours, is the major cause of this dental condition. The sugary liquid flows over the baby's upper front teeth and dissolves the enamel, causing decay that can lead to infection. The longer the practice continues, the greater the damage to the baby's teeth and mouth.

Try to avoid using pacifiers that have been dipped in any sugary mixtures. Sucking on sweetened pacifiers for hours on end is a sure recipe for tooth decay.

Also watch out on the amount of juice you give your baby. Juices contain acids that destroy the enamel of the tooth. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that toddlers consume no more than six ounces of juice per day.

Finally, don't wait for your child to finish teething before getting professional advice. Get your child's teeth checked out when you can see between 6 and 8 teeth or when the child is one year old. Your dentist can spot any potential problems and give you advice on prevention of tooth decay..

Start Brushing with Baby's First Tooth

When should I start cleaning my baby's teeth is a question many parents ask. The answer is straightforward; parents should brush their child's teeth when the first tooth arrives.

Babies will begin to show signs of teething about two to three weeks before the first tooth appears. Of the many teething symptoms that your baby can have, you should look out for the usually symptoms of teething, such as, excessive drooling, fussiness - especially during feeding, and your baby's insatiable desire to chew on just about everything. If your infant is showing signs of discomfort you can try traditional remedies or purchase teething rungs or homeopathic teething remedies.

Parents should start brushing their baby's teeth from the moment the first tooth appears. You should clean your baby's teeth with a baby toothbrush. You shouldn't use any form of toothpaste, as there is every chance your child will swallow this, and ingested toothpaste can be harmful to your child. Some babies can fuss when you first begin to brush their teeth. It is important that you don't allow your child's behaviour to stop your brushing. If your baby is unwilling to have his teeth brushed, try giving them a toothbrush of their own. They usually enjoying chomping down on it and it gets them familiar with this new implement. Be sure to use a clean brush and not the child' brush when you clean. Also, never let your child chew on their brush without your supervision; there is every chance of choking.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends an oral health risk assessment for all children by 6 months of age by a qualified pediatrician or a qualified pediatric health care professional, using the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Caries Risk Assessment Tool. Caries is cavity formation in teeth caused by bacteria that attach to teeth and form acids in the presence of sucrose, other sugars, and refined starches:; this condition is better known as tooth decay.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe that early childhood caries, decay of the tooth, may be the most common infectious disease in children. It is believed 40 percent of children under 5 years of age are infected. Dental caries is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever in children. If not treated, caries in children can result in chronic pain and early tooth loss, failure to thrive, malocclusion, inability to concentrate at school or absence from school, reduced self-esteem and psychosocial problems.

Caries can also be passed from caregiver to baby, so it is also essential that parents practice good oral hygiene. Avoid sharing spoons, wash pacifiers with water and not by cleaning it with your own saliva. Any object that your baby places in their mouth should also be sterilized after washing. Never share a bottle between siblings.

Teething is a long, drawn-out process and the symptoms can be upsetting for both child and parents. The best teething remedy for your child is by regular brushing of their teeth. We all get two chances for that perfect smile; milk teeth and then adult teeth. Take care of those teeth and your baby will reward you with a beautiful smile.

Are Pacifiers Good For Baby?

The pacifier recently got an endorsement from the American Academy of Pediatrics. This happened after pacifier use was linked to a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Now many dentists are going to bat for the binky. Dubbed everything from the "dummy" to the "binky," the pacifier is famous for its ability to soothe fretful infants. Now there's another group that's happy about the pacy: dentists. The group that has preached the perils of pacifier use is now giving the habit the thumbs-up for its ability to help cut the risk of SIDS.

"It is better to suck the pacifier than the thumb because you can get rid of the pacifier," said William Vann, a pediatric dentist at the University of North Carolina.

Dr. Vann notes that both the pacifier and thumb can lead to tooth troubles, but says thumb-sucking is a much tougher habit to kick. "You can't get rid of the thumb. It's there, and a lot of children suck subconsciously at night while they are sleeping and that is a very difficult habit to break," he said.

Vann points to research out of Scandinavia that shows a push towards the pacifier greatly reduced the number of thumb-suckers. He hopes the American Academy of Pediatrics endorsement will trigger the same trend here. "I'm really optimistic we can, over a 25-year time horizon, greatly reduce thumb-sucking in the United States with this new philosophy."

Dr. Vann is quick to point out that pediatric dentists who are pro-pacifier, support limited use, holding off until a baby is a month old to help promote breastfeeding, and stopping soon after the first year. At that point, notes Dr. Vann, the SIDS pacifier protection is no longer needed and research suggests beyond a year, the binky may increase the risk of ear infections and later the risk of tooth troubles.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry doesn't have a formal pacifier or thumb-sucking policy. The group promotes an individualized approach for each child in evaluating the oral habits.


Baby Teething Myths and Folklore

There is much myth and folklore surrounding baby teething. Some (thankfully) have now passed into antiquity and are no longer rememebered; some though, are still around today. Listed in no particular order are the big, the bad and the ugly of teething myths. I hope some will amuse, shock, sadden or amaze you.

Hippocrates, Homer, Celsus and Aristotle are known to have associated teething with significant morbidity. Hippocrates regarded primary tooth eruption as a cause of severe illness, including fever, diarrhoea and convulsions. Since, a number of other conditions have been identified as resulting from teething, as diverse as photophobia, blinking eyes, vomiting, neuralgia, severe head cold, weight loss, toxaemia, tonsillitis, paralysis, cholera, meningitis, tetanus, insanity and even penile dischargeThe bourgeois medical profession in the 16th-19th Centuries even regarded teething as being the cause of death in a significant number of infant fatalities. Around one half of all infant deaths in 18th century France were attributed to teething, and teething accounted for 12% of the total deaths in children younger than 4 years old in the Registrar General's Report of 1842.

Around 117 AD, another Greek, Soranus, recommended using hare's brain to soothe the pain of teething, a treatment that persisted until the 17th century. A fourth prescription reads, "If they are in pain, smear the gums with dog's milk or hare's brain, this works also if eaten." In the sixth century, Aetios of Amida suggested that, in addition to hare's brain, having the infant wear bracelets and amulets would ease teething pain.

Remedies that have been prescribed for teething through the ages have included blistering, bleeding, placing leeches on the gums, and applying cautery (burning or scalding) to the back of the head!

In 1842 the British Registrar General's office reported teething as the cause of death in 4.8% of infants under 1 year of age and 7.3% of children between 1 and 3 years of age. Records kept by pioneers in Utah between 1847 and 1881 attributed 521 deaths to teething. As late as 1910, the British Registrar General recorded that 1,600 children died of teething, and even between 1947 and 1979, "teething convulsions" was given as the cause of death for a small group of British children.

Letting a dog lick the baby was considered to be a cure for teething pain.

Another cure stated that "After the mother returns from church, she should breathe three times on the child."

And how about this cure: On the tenth day after birth, carry the baby around the outside of a house three times.

Christian tradition stated that donkeys originally had unmarked hides, and that it was only after Christ's entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey that they recieved the dark cross on their backs. It was also believed that a charm made from the hairs of the cross of the donkey, and worn as a charm guarded against teething pain - and mny other child ailments.

It was believed by some that early teething was associated with higher intelligence, whilst delayed teething sinalled later learning difficulties.

In some parts of the United States it was believed that rabbit brains, rubbed on the gums three or four times a day, were very helpful to teething babies. Some states added to this further and believed that the rabbit must be a graveyard rabbit, killed on the dark of the moon, at sunset Friday, by a cross-eyed negro with a crooked stick.

A German belief thought that when your child begins teething and you see his or her first tooth, immediately slap the child's face. It will make the teething go without pain.

There's an old wive's tale that states: "If your baby gets teeth before they are 6 months old then with in a year you'll be pregnant again."

The Tooth Fairy
The loss of a child's first tooth is an important event in the life of a child - and parents. The mythology of the Tooth Fairy is ingrained in Western culture: the child places the tooth under its pillow just before going to sleep and, in the morning, waking up to find that the fairy has exchanged the tooth for a coin. The Tooth Fairy is right up there along with Father Christmas and the Easter Bunny; a fictional character that is considered to be real by children. Many adults can remember the exact moment they discovered that the fairy was not real - and the sense of loss of magic that the world had up to that moment.


Origins of the Tooth Fairy

The origins of what we now think of as the Tooth Fairy can be traced to ancient beliefs in Europe and falls in the realm of "Elves" or "Brownie (elf)" who will often perform useful tasks or exchange valuable treasures for things humans view as mundane or useless. The Vikings had their own ritual called "tooth fee" whereby a small gift was given to a child when its first tooth appeared.

In many European countries the Tooth Fairy was depicted as a mouse. In Spanish-speaking countries the mouse was called Ratoncito Pérez, and in Italy the mouse was called topino (little mouse). Why the figure associated with children's teeth was a mouse is probably because the teeth of mouse (and other rodents) go on growing for its whole life. In some Asian countries, such as Japan and Korea, there exists a similar link between mice and children's teeth. When a tooth falls out of a child, usually he or she should throw it by himself/herself, to the roof when it came from lower jaw or to the space beneath the floor when it came from upper jaw, shouting "please replace it with the tooth of mouse."

So how did mouse metamorphise to fairy?

The belief in magical fairies probably has is strongest association with either Britain or Ireland. Fairy folklore was an ancient belief and applied to many aspects of life. So we had the belief in fairies and the belief in children's teeth and mice. But how did the two cross. There's a tradition from 18th century France of a "tooth mouse," likely based on a fairy tale, La Bonne Petite Souris, in which a fairy changes into a mouse (or perhaps the other way around) to help the good queen defeat the evil king. The mouse hides under a pillow to taunt the king, and punishes him by knocking out all his teeth. Perhaps this was the origin of the tooth fairy, but no one knows for sure.

The tooth fairy as we now know her didn't make an appearance until the early 1900s, as a generalized "good fairy" with a professional specialization. The child loses a baby tooth, which is put under the pillow at night, and the tooth fairy exchanges it for a present, usually money but sometimes candy. Exchanges of this sort are common in many rites of passage (like an exchange of rings at a wedding, say).

The tooth fairy grew slowly in popularity over the next few decades. The Tooth Fairy, a three-act playlet for children by Esther Watkins Arnold, was published in 1927. Lee Rogow's story "The Tooth Fairy" appeared in 1949 and seems to be the first children's story written about the tooth fairy. She became widely popular from the 1950s onward, with a veritable eruption of children's books, cartoons, jokes, etc., including more focus on children's dental hygiene. Parents cheerfully bought into the idea and the tooth fairy became part of family life. The 1980s saw the commercialization and merchandising of the tooth fairy, with special pillows, dolls, banks, etc.

The Tooth Fairy does not have a strong background such as Santa Claus; there's no sense of where she lives, or why she collects children's teeth, or what exactly she looks like. She's very ephemeral. Perhaps this befits her, as a child's teething and loss of milk teeth are also a passing phase of a child's life. But her charm and magic, though short lived, is something remembered by children, as is the charm and magic of the appearance of a child's first tooth and that loss of that tooth remembered by its parents.

Teething: A Developmental Milestone

Seeing the appearance of your child’s first tooth is something you, as a parent, will remember for the rest of your life. But unlike other developmental milestones, teething doesn’t happen all at once. In fact, it can be a long, drawn-out and painful process for both baby and parent.

Babies are born with all 20 of their milk teeth (deciduous teeth), you just can’t see them as they are still buried in her gums. Teeth usually start to erupt around six months of age. At around three to months of age you can probably feel the bumps under your baby’s gums. Checking your baby’s gums is usually a good idea, making sure everything is okay: you should also be checking your baby’s mouth for oral thrush. Before checking your baby’s gums, wash your hands. You don’t need to apply any creams or oils, just gently move your finger over the gums and look inside your baby’s mouth.

Spotting the symptoms of teething can be tricky. However, there are some signs to look out for that may mean that your baby is teething. A baby becoming grumpy is usually the most obvious, and no wonder. The breaking of the gum tissue can be a very painful experience. For most babies, the appearance of the first tooth is the most painful; however, the eruption of the molar teeth can be the most discomforting to a baby.

Excessive dribbling (drooling) is another sign that your baby might be teething. However recent research is now leaning towards dribbling having nothing to do with teething and is just something babies do at that age. Your child can develop a skin rash around the mouth from too much dribbling. This can be distressing for a parent but the condition is transitory and can be easily treated.

It used to be said that teething produced a fever. This is nonsense however. Teething does not cause high temperatures. If your baby does have a temperature don’t ignore it, get medical advice.

If you baby is in discomfort because of teething, you can help in a number of ways. The first thing to try is to distract your child. It sounds obvious, but this simple solution can really help most babies. You can also give your child something to chew on. You’re bound to notice that your baby wants to chew everything it comes across when it’s teething. There are many different teething rings and pacifiers on the market. Which type to buy, is a personal choice. You can buy basic, cheap plastic ones to expensive silver rings. Make sure you thoroughly wash and teething rings or pacifiers after use. You can also try giving your baby a damp cloth that has been chilled in the fridge, to chew on; just make sure the cloth is clean.

Yet another thing you can try is giving your child a piece of fruit or vegetable to chew on. Again, cool it in the fridge first. Also make sure the food item is large so that your baby can’t swallow it and choke. It is also vital that the food item does not break up into to smaller pieces to avoid the possibility of your baby choking. Test the food yourself before giving it to your baby, Carrots that have been chilled in the fridge are good.

Whether using carrots, rings or pacifiers, never, ever leave your child unsupervised. Even the firmest carrot, most expensive teething ring, can break or cause your child to choke.

Other products that can help alleviate teething pains are such things as homeopathic ointments and teething gels. These should only be given as a last resort and only after medical consultation.

Teething can be a very stressful time for both babies and parents but it is also a time of great excitement for both. The important thing to realise is that teething does take time and can sometimes be painful for your baby. But it will pass this developmental stage and your child will not remember the discomfort and you, as a parent, will soon forget.



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