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Easing Teething Pain

Written by Jennifer Lai, M.D. on Dec 14, 2016 8:33:00 AM

The frustration of knowing your baby is hurting is often compounded by the fact they can’t tell you what’s wrong. While you may have to do some detective work for a cold or earache, it’s pretty easy to identify when your baby is teething. Fussiness and irritability are common telltale signs of teething pain. Here are my suggestions to help ease the discomfort. 

Additional Signs

There are several signs to look for to determine if your baby is teething. Keep in mind that each child will experience teething differently. If you notice several of these symptoms and your baby is between 3 months old and a year old, it’s likely they’re teething. 

  • Swollen gums
  • A tooth visible at the surface of the gum
  • Irritability
  • Drooling
  • Rubbing their face
  • Pulling on their ear
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Attempting to bite or chew things
  • Loss of appetite 

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    Don’t Chalk These Symptoms up to Teething

    There are several old wives’ tales that circulate about teething symptoms and it’s important to know which may indicate something more serious. For example, many moms believe a slight fever, runny nose or diarrhea are indicators their baby is teething. But there’s no scientific link between these symptoms and the introduction of new teeth. If your child is experiencing fever, diarrhea or a runny nose, they may also have a cold and you should contact your physician. I’m not saying that babies who are teething don’t experience these cold-like symptoms – many times they do – but most physicians believe that, while teething, children are more likely to put foreign objects into their mouths to chew on and lessen their discomfort. Because of this, they come into contact with more germs and viruses, increasing the likelihood they can get sick at the same time as teething. 

    How to Ease the Pain

    If your baby is teething, there are some things you can do to help them get through it. Here’s what I typically tell parents to try: 

    • Cold – Cold compresses and cold food can help reduce pain and swelling. Place a damp washcloth in a plastic bag and put it in the refrigerator to chill. When it’s cold, let them chew on the washcloth. A teether or pacifier designed to be kept in the fridge can work wonders, too. If your baby is eating solid foods, provide chilled fruit (cut small enough so it isn’t a choking hazard). Finally, remember these recommended items need to be placed in the refrigerator and not the freezer. Freezing them may cause the item to stick to your child’s gum, causing additional pain.
      • Topical Medication – Talk to your physician about pediatric medicine that can be put on your child’s gums to numb the pain. Many of these are over-the-counter medications, but again, talk to your child’s pediatrician to see what they recommend. The drawback to these numbing creams is they don’t last long and will likely be swallowed, which can interfere with your baby’s gag reflex.
  •  Pressuteething wood rail-176294218.jpgre – Applying pressure to the gums can help distract babies from the pain of teething. This can be accomplished with a teether or pacifier. You can even apply light pressure to their gums with a clean pinky finger.
    • Medication – If nothing else seems to be working, talk to your pediatrician about pain for your baby.

      Teething can be a trying time for your baby and you, but a combination of these remedies should help make that time go by a little easier for everyone. 

    • Dr. Jennifer Lai is a board-certified pediatrician at Kelsey-Seybold’s Spring Medical and Diagnostic Center. She’s accepting appointments for kids of all ages. Her clinical interests include general Pediatrics, newborns, autism, and obesity.



Topics: teething, teething pain

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