Last week our baby had a meltdown at dinner, which was unusual. We were worried at first, but it quickly became clear that she was teething. I could feel the tips of the first two teeth with my finger. My wife totally fangirled when seeing the tiny teeth. At the same time we wondered, how long will this take?
So, I did some quick research, and the answer isn’t so simple. The teething process is spread over a few years, typically starting round 4-7 months (although it can be later, our girl started at 9), and ending round 2-3 years old. Each tooth takes 1-7 days to erupt (break through), although multiple teeth can erupt at the same time.
Our reason for asking the question was actually about my baby daughter’s pain and discomfort. She’s been extra clingy lately, and was also drooling a lot more. Both signs that teething was coming. What we actually wanted to know, was…
How Long Until Teething Pain and Symptoms are Over?
Yes, how long until the pain, drooling and clinginess are over? It usually takes a few days round when the tooth breaks through, but can last longer. Indeed, our baby had no trouble come dinner time the next day, although she was still more clingy and has been waking up at night crying for a few days.
However, it’s not over. Yes, the pain was settling down, but it came back yesterday. She cried at dinner both yesterday and today. Our guess is that the second tooth is now in the process of breaking through.
I’m sure that it’ll settle down again soon… and then return again later when the next set of teeth start to erupt.
What Can We Do About Teething Pain?
The first is to recognize that it’s teething pain and not something else. Your child can’t explain how they’re feeling with words. At least when the first few teeth, that is. Crying is about the only way they can express discomfort, and you need to figure out what each cry means.
Some possible signs of teething are:
- Drooling more than usual (may cause rashes round the mouth and chin due to continually being wet)
- Being more clingy and/or irritable
- Chewing things a lot
- Sore and red gums
- Baby is rubbing his/her ears or cheeks
- Refusing to eat
- Slight increase in temperature (but no fever)
You may not see them all. We noticed the drooling and clinginess with our child, but not the others. While she didn’t refuse to eat, dinner time was definitely over when she started crying and had her meltdown. I could also feel the teeth coming through with my finger.
IMPORTANT: It should go without saying that you should make sure your fingers are clean before putting them (gently) into your baby’s mouth.
Soothing the Pain
Pain is part of the process, but I’m sure you’d like to sooth it as much as possible. Teething toys are the usual go-to. Some of them can be chilled in the fridge. We’ve got one of those chillable teethers, but our baby usually goes for the wooden rings (or the teether’s handle 😉 ). I’ve heard some people having success with cold cucumber, strawberries, etc., but haven’t tried that yet.
The Mayo clinic also suggest gently rubbing the gums with your (clean) finger, or using infant pain medication. I recommend avoiding the pain-killers unless absolutely necessary. For many babies, the teething toys and attention from Mama and Papa should be enough. If the baby seems to be in a lot of pain, then you’re better off visiting the doctor instead of going straight for the pain medication.
How Do I Care For My Baby’s New Teeth?
Obviously, adult toothbrushes won’t work. You can initially wipe the teeth and gums gently with a clean soft cloth or gauze. Twice a day is recommended. Once the teeth are through, use a small soft baby sized tooth-brush. We have a finger toothbrush (like this one), which is about to be put to use.
I’ve also been advised to use toothpaste designed specifically for babies, and to use a tiny amount (rice-grain sized until they’re 18 months). Baby toothpaste has less flouride and is less abrasive. I’m not so sure about the toothpaste, because I don’t want my child swallowing it. My feeling is that it may be better to stick with water until our baby knows how to gargle and spit it out.
Cover Photo Credit: Image by Mojca J.