Writing about the care of children has precipitated a rash of questions about teething babies. Teething can be a difficult time to your baby and for you. However, it does not have to be; using an understanding of this natural and exciting development in your baby, you can help them through it without loosing sleep. 
This sounds like a bold suggestion. you may, however take heart from the fact that neither my wife nor I were kept awake by either of our children teething. Of course they had other ailments, but never teething pain. 
 
The eruption of your baby's teeth is a totally natural, non-traumatic occurrence. The teeth grow in a sac, which becomes continuous with the gum a short time before the tooth can be seen to appear. The erruption of the tooth is painless. The pain, reddened sore gums and dribbling normally associated with teething are actually caused by bacterial and viral infections of the mouth. You and I have millions of bacteria living in our mouths and when we cuddle and kiss our babies, we pass them on. Some of these bacteria only live on teeth, so before teething, they do not affect the child. However, once the teeth appear, bacteria colonise the new area with great speed and the gums, unaccustomed to the bacteria, react by becoming inflamed. 
 
"All very interesting" I hear you ask, "but what can I do about that?" Well- most parents begin brushing too late- once the teeth have already appeared and are quite well erupted and "teething" is over. I advise parents to begin brushing as soon as they see the swelling in the gum where the teeth are going to appear. (The first are usually the lower front teeth). Use a very soft, small brush, moistened in warm water. You may be brushing this gum for a month or two before the teeth actually appear- just keep going, it will do no harm. 
 
Now the important bit- your baby will probably happily take the brush into their mouth- they love to explore the world with their mouths, but will hate you brushing their gums. This is not because it hurts, but because it is an invasion of their personal space. My daughter still hates it aged 4 years! However much your baby protests, just keep brushing their gums gently twice per day- I used to do it for about 30 seconds. You may experience a small bit of bleeding once or twice- be considerate and gentle, but brush anyway. 
 
Then, when the teeth are clearly visible, introduce a tiny amount of toothpaste- literally a smudge on the bristles. Over a year or so, build up the amount of toothpaste to the size of a pea. 
 
If despite this care, your baby is waking up with a sore mouth, I recommend that you bring the baby to be examined by your dentist, as their pain is likely to be coming from something else. 
Tagged as: Teething
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