Most infants will see their first tooth by around the age of 6-8 months.
The first teeth to pop through are the bottom front teeth then about 1-2 months later the top four front teeth and so on and so on until they have about 20 teeth by the age of 2.5 years old. The whole process takes about 8 days which includes 4 days leading up to the tooth erupting, the day the tooth breaks through and 3 days following.
Teething can be quite a distressing and a painful experience for little ones.
Each child will experience teething differently to the next. Some infants may even experience different symptoms and levels of discomfort or pain throughout their own teething journey.
The most common symptoms include being more irritable and fussier at feeding time.
Teething infants may also have trouble sleeping, be much clingier and want to feed more frequently or less, look for things to bite on for pain relief (including mum!), have red and swollen, sore and tender gums, drool more frequently, develop a rash on their chin, and experience pain that spreads to their ears and chin.
Some parents also report an increase incidence of fever and diarrhoea associated with teething.
This is interesting as there is actually very little evidence that the teething process causes fever and diarrhea.
Studies reveal that a teething child with these additional symptoms are more likely to be suffering from an infection such as a urinary tract infection or gastro. Teething can lead to a slight increase in body temperature but not a fever. This highlights the importance of not disregarding fever and diarrhea as a normal part of teething and to support your little the way you would during an infection.
It is perhaps more likely that a teething child who is constantly placing their hands or objects in their mouth has an increased risk of picking up a bug.
There aren’t a lot of studies on risk factors for increased experience of teething pain. One study in Singapore did find exposure to tobacco smoke, being born by c-section and maternal vitamin D insufficiency as considerations.
Natural approaches for teething
- Mum or dad can use a clean finger gently massage the infant’s gums.
- Use cooled wash cloth to do the same: soak the washcloth in water and pop in the freezer. You can tie knots at the ends to make a nice shape for your child to chew on.
- Add herbs to the cooled washcloth: make the water infused with different dried herbs such as chamomile. Chamomile is a calming herb that helps soothe irritability and relax your child but also has anti-inflammatory benefits. Add 1 teaspoon of dried chamomile flowers to 100ml of boiled water, allow to infuse and cool down before soaking washcloth and popping in the freezer. This same chamomile infusion can be given as a tea to older infants.
- Add clove to cooled washcloth: for an analgesic effect, infuse the water you soak the washcloth with clove buds. Add 1 tablespoon of dried clove buds in 250ml of boiled water and steep for 10 minutes.
- There are teething rings/toys that also provide the same massaging pain relief as the washcloth. Choose ones that are made from untreated non-toxic materials such as natural hardwood.
- For infants who have started their solids journey, foods can also be useful things to chew on. Think of safe foods that present no choking risk such as a mango pit, a cob of corn with corn kernels removed, a celery stick or a meat bone stick. Cold foods can offer a different type of pain relief. By adding cold foods to a special food feeding net device avoids potential choking risk for those who are still learning to eat.
- Breastfeeding is also at the top of the list as a natural remedy due to its ability to provide comfort and pain relief. Not only does the close-to-close contact allow for the child to feel safe and relaxed but there are also thoughts that endorphins, pain-relieving hormones, transfer to the child via the breastmilk. A mother’s breastmilk is simply amazing and will adjust in its composition depending on the infant’s needs. An infant suckling at the breast provides a gateway through which the infant’s body sends messages to the mother’s body allowing for changes to be made to the breastmilk to support whatever the infant is going through.
- Cuddle therapy. In addition to the cuddles, spending time with your teething child by distracting them with activities such as singing and playing can help take their mind of the pain. A calm child avoids the inflammatory effects of stress on the body adding to the already established inflammation and pain.
- Homeopathic remedies
Over the counter topical treatments for teething
In regards to topical treatments, there are a few out their on the market that use homeopathic remedies and herbal medicine.
There is actually good research for using homeopathic remedies for teething.
Look for products containing some of the following homeopathics:
- Calcarea phosphoricum
- Ferrum phosphoricum
- Magnesium phosphoricum
- Hepar sulfuris
- Solanum dulcamara
- Plantago major
- Calcium carbonicum
It is recommended to reserve these topicals for those over 6 months of age or who have started solids. Always check labels for warnings and allergen alerts.
Teething remedies to avoid
Teething gels once used for teething bubs in the past containing the numbing agent lidocaine or benzocaine are not recommended due to their link with potential toxicity and danger of interfering with the infant’s gag reflex.
Need extra support?
Teething causes different levels of discomfort for each child. If your child is showing signs of symptoms that go beyond the normal expectations of teething, get in touch today to see how we can help.