Congestion and Teething


Cutting teeth isn't one of those milestones a baby reaches all at once. Transitioning from that gummy grin to a mouthful of gleaming teeth is a rite of passage that can take your little one three years to complete. Whenever the first tooth peeks through, celebrate it by taking pictures and noting its arrival date in your child's baby book. By the time your little one is 3, he'll have a mouthful of choppers that he can brush himself, a basic step on the road to self care. The journey starts in the womb. While you were pregnant, your baby developed tooth buds, the foundation for baby teeth.

Role of parents

You can't do anything to make teeth appear, but you can comfort your baby if you think the process troubles him. Give him something to chew on, such as a teething ring or a wet washcloth cooled in the refrigerator. He may also get some relief from eating cold foods, like applesauce or yogurt. Massaging his gums is another way to soothe his discomfort, after washing your hands, rub his gums gently but firmly with your finger. The pressure provides a welcome balance to the pressure your baby feels coming from the buried teeth below. If none of this helps, your doctor may suggest giving your baby children's acetaminophen to ease the pain and inflammation. The use of a topical pain relief gel is also an option, though most pediatricians advise against it: If too much is used, the gel can numb the back of your baby's throat and weaken his gag reflex.

When to be concerned

Never put your baby to bed with a bottle. That's because the sugars in formula and breast milk will sit on his teeth all night and can lead to a condition known as baby-bottle tooth decay, or bottle rot. Another way to avoid this condition and reduce the risk of cavities is to transition your baby from a bottle to a cup by sometime around his first birthday, when he's coordinated enough to manage it. When your child drinks out of a sippy cup, he's more likely to finish his drink in a short time, and avoid the prolonged exposure to sugars that comes with sipping from a bottle all day long. If by the end of the first year you still don't see any sign of a tooth, bring the matter up at your child's 12-month checkup. If your child has all the signs of teething, heavy drooling, swollen gums, but also seems to be having unusual pain, call his doctor. Teething shouldn't be an excruciating ordeal for a baby.

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