Teething babies usually experience some discomfort. They may dribble and become fretful and irritable. Sometimes bowel movements become slightly loose, but it is a mistake to blame diarrhoea, vomiting, fever or any other sign of illness on teething, although teething may lower resistance so that the child is more susceptible to viral infections.
The reason a child cries when teething is that its gums are hurting. Chewing on a rattle or teething ring may help, as may rubbing the gums with a finger. If necessary, gels that contain a mild pain reliever and a gum soother can be rubbed on the gums. These are available without a prescription from chemists.
Teeth normally start to appear around five or six months, although babies vary widely, with some cutting a tooth as early as three months (some children have even been born with teeth eg: Napoleon Bonaparte) and some not until seven or eight months. A baby who cuts teeth earlier than average is not brighter or more advanced than one who cuts them later.
Teeth usually appear quite rapidly in the child’s second six months, and by the time they are nine or ten months, most babies have both the top and bottom four front teeth. The molars then start to appear around the age of one. These are likely to cause some discomfort even in a baby who has had none before, since the larger, broader shape makes it difficult for them to push through the gum. Most of the first or “milk” teeth will have arrived by the age of two and a half. Chewing on a teething ring, rubbing the gums with gels that contain a mild pain reliever, and paracetamol drops or elixir, will ease any discomfort. Infants are more susceptible to infections while stressed by teething.
The baby teeth will start to loosen and fall out when the child is about five, and the permanent teeth will then begin to erupt. It is a complete mistake to assume that because a child will lose their first teeth therefore dental care is of reduced importance. The second teeth are already in the gums and a child whose first teeth are allowed to decay faces a lifetime of dental problems.