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Caring for Your Baby's Teeth

Teething

It can take two years before all of the infant teeth have made their way through your baby's gums. The process as each tooth emerges is called "teething." It can be a trying time for you and your baby.

Teething is uncomfortable. That's why your baby cries and fusses in the days or weeks before each baby tooth pops up. Babies can display other teething symptoms, too, including:

  • drooling
  • swollen gums
  • slightly higher than normal temperature

Here are a few tips to relieve your baby's teething pain:

Teething rings. Let your baby chew on a clean, cool teething ring or cold washcloth. Just avoid giving your child anything that is small enough to choke on. Also avoid a teething ring with liquid inside that could break open.

Gum rubbing. Rub your baby's gums with a clean finger.

Pain relief. Topical pain relievers rubbed on the gums should not be used for teething. Not only does saliva quickly wash the medication away, but the FDA warns against dangerous, potentially life-threatening side effects caused by such products. Give your baby Tylenol (acetaminophen) occasionally to relieve pain -- but ask your pediatrician first. Never give your child aspirin. It has been linked with a rare but serious condition called Reye's syndrome in children.

If your baby is unusually irritable or inconsolable, call your pediatrician.

Preventing Cavities

In addition to caring for baby teeth, you need to protect them. To prevent cavities, only fill your baby's bottle with:

  • formula
  • breast milk
  • water

Avoid giving your child fruit juices, sodas, and other sugary drinks. Sweet drinks -- even milk -- can settle on the teeth. This can lead to baby tooth decay -- also known as "baby bottle tooth decay." Bacteria feed on the sugar from sweet drinks and produce acid, which attacks baby's teeth.

If you have to send your baby to bed or naps with a bottle or sippy cup, fill it with water only. Also avoid putting anything sweet -- such as sugar or honey -- on your baby's pacifier.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on July 11, 2012
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