Often, the infant's gums feel better when gentle pressure is placed on the gums. For this reason, many doctors recommend gently rubbing the gums with a clean finger or having the child bite down on a clean washcloth.
If the pain seems to be causing feeding problems, sometimes a different-shaped nipple or use of a cup may reduce discomfort and improve feeding.
Cold objects may help reduce the inflammation as well. Veteran parents have discovered the usefulness of frozen washcloths for this purpose. Be careful to avoid having prolonged contact of very cold objects on the gums. Also, never put anything into a child's mouth that might cause the child to choke.
Use of pain medications: Some controversy surrounds the use of pain medicines.
Medicines that can be placed on the gums: Certain over-the-counter medicines can be placed directly on the gums to help relieve pain. They contain medicines that temporarily numb the gum. They may help for brief periods of time, but they have a taste and sensation that many children do not like. It is important not to let the medicine numb the throat because this may interfere with the normal gag reflex and may make it possible for food to get into the lungs. For this reason, many doctors do not recommend the use of these medicines. Note: Drugs containing benzocaine should not be used in children under age 2.
Medicines that are taken by mouth to help reduce the pain: Acetaminophen (Children's Tylenol, Tempra, Children's Silapap, for example) or ibuprofen (Children's Advil, Junior Strength Motrin, for example) may also help with pain. They should be used only for the few times when the other home care methods do not help. Caution should be taken not to overmedicate for teething. The medicine may cover up a fever that could be important to know about. Do not give children products containing aspirin.