There are milestones that every parent looks forward to in their baby's development. A baby getting their first tooth is time for celebration and excitement as they begin the transition to more independent beings who can soon begin eating a wide variety of foods.
Unfortunately, teething can be a painful process for babies. There are different methods you can use to soothe and temporarily alleviate the pain. Using different items that have been refrigerated or frozen is a good place to start. You can buy solid teething rings that are made to be frozen multiple times or try a wet washcloth, spoon, or pacifier. This will numb their gums while letting them work through their need to chew. If your child can hold a sippy cup, cold water between feedings is okay too.
Baby Wants a Cracker
Different types of food can also appeal to your baby's need to chew. The National Institute of Health recommends that hard, unsweetened teething crackers may also be added to baby's diet as they add more to their diet. This not only fulfills the need to chew, but also fosters independent eating of solid foods.
The Teeth Are In! Now What?
Yes, even babies need to have their teeth brushed and cared for, just like children and adults. Good oral care habits now will prevent a whole lot of other issues down the line, such as problems with permanent teeth. Also, some children do not initially like the sensation of the brush on their gums so getting them used to the habit as a baby will set them up for good habits when they begin to brush for themselves.
You can use a small, baby toothbrush with soft bristles to clean the front and back of any teeth that have come in, though a soft, damp cloth rubbed on the gums can be used as a substitute if they don't tolerate a brush yet. A child-safe toothpaste is okay to start and you can eventually move to using a bead of fluoridated toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice. Even when your child can hold the brush by themselves, you should follow up behind them with proper technique.
When to See the Dentist
Now that your child has teeth it is recommended that you see a dentist around the first birthday. This has two-fold benefit: your child's teeth are looked at before problems occur and your baby gets used to what happens at the dentist's office. The dentist can also give you advice on how to continue caring for your child's teeth as more come in.
As hard as it is to see your baby in pain, teething will eventually pass into a set of shiny new teeth that will be there for 8-10 years. Beginning oral care habits now will help set your child up for a great relationship with the dentist and let them continue to enjoy a great smile.