Getting and Staying Healthy: A Health and Medical Blog

Two tips for parents whose babies have started teething

The teething process can be challenging for both infants and their parents. Below are two points that parents should keep in mind during this stage of their baby's dental development.

They should be cautious about how often they let their baby have a dummy

Many parents give their babies dummies; these items can be a source of great comfort to infants and can enable their parents to soothe and calm them during periods when they are upset for no discernible reason. However, dentists will often advise parents to use caution in regards to how frequently they allow their babies to use dummies when their infants start teething. Ideally, parents in this situation should try to wean their baby off their dummy.

The main reason why dentists tend to say this is that if a baby is using a dummy for several hours a day whilst their teeth are growing in, the presence of the dummy may affect the angle at which these new teeth emerge, which might, in turn, result in them being misaligned after they grow in. Whilst these teeth will fall out after a few years, it is still important for them to be correctly aligned whilst they are present in the mouth, as tooth misalignment can negatively affect a growing infant's speech development and can inhibit their ability to chew (and therefore properly digest) the foods they eat.

They should take their baby to the dentist if their teething symptoms seem unusually severe

Teething is an uncomfortable and occasionally painful experience for most infants, and the occurrence of symptoms such as swollen, irritated-looking gums and excessive drooling is a common part of this process. However, if a parent notices that their baby seems to be in great distress whilst teething or if they develop a high fever and their gums look extremely swollen and smell malodorous, then they should not dismiss this as a normal aspect of the teething process. Instead, they should take their baby to the dentist for an urgent check-up.

The reason for this is that these symptoms might mean that the infant has an infection induced by the eruption of their teeth and the gum inflammation that occurs during this process. If they have an infection like this, it is critical that a dentist identifies and then treats this problem with antibiotics as quickly as possible because infants' immune systems are weak and are not, therefore, good at fighting off major infections. Because of this, any teething-induced dental infection that is not promptly treated could quickly become very serious and result in medical complications.

To learn more about your child's teeth, contact a dentist in your area.