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Health Tips / Teething

Diagnosis and Symptoms

A baby will develop 20 milk teeth (first teeth). The average age for the first tooth to appear is six to seven months although this can vary considerably, from birth to 1 year. Late teething does not mean that a baby is less advanced than others of the same age. The teeth appear or "cut" in a particular order. The first teeth are normally middle incisors at the top followed by the second incisors, the pre-molars, the eye teeth and finally the molars which appear between 1 and 2 years. Molars are much larger teeth and are consequently much more painful. Brushing can begin as soon as the first tooth appears. A wide variety of baby toothbrushes and toothpastes are available

A tooth coming through the gum can be seen or felt as a small bump on the gum surface which may look swollen or red and raised. Irritability and restlessness are often the first symptoms. The child may dribble more than normal and may show rosy cheeks and chin. The baby will begin to chew on objects. Other symptoms are often falsely attributed to teething. Diarrhoea, vomiting, high fever and febrile convulsions are not caused by teething. Babies experiencing any of these symptoms should be seen by a doctor.

Preventative measures 

When the first tooth has cut, babies should be encouraged to develop the skill of chewing food. Rusks, pieces of apples (peeled) or pieces of raw carrots are often given to babies at this stage. Babies can choke very easily while eating and consequently should be supervised. If food is choking a baby, a gentle tap between the shoulder blades should be enough to bring it up.
A variety of teething rings and rattles are available in an assortment of shapes sizes and colours which the baby can chew on. These may be hard or may contain gels inside which may be cooled in a refrigerator to provide extra relief for sore gums. Products containing PHTHALATES, which had been used to soften the plastic in the teething ring, have been banned for use in teething products.
Cool drinks and smooth textured cold foods such as ice cream or yoghurt may be useful to soothe sore gums. 

Topical oral analgesics such as BONJELA may be beneficial in relieving teething pain. They may be applied directly using a clean finger. 

Paracetamol is an effective analgesic (pain reliever) and antipyretic (temperature reducing agent) (eg. CALPOL SUGAR FREE, PANADOL INFANT, PARALINK)  The dose of paracetamol is dependent on age. 

Prolonged or routine use of paracetamol without medical supervision can be dangerous. 

Ibuprofen, available over the counter as  NUROFEN FOR CHILDREN or FENOPINE, is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) which is effective in reducing temperature and relieving pain and inflammation.  Ibuprofen should not be given to babies or children with asthma, stomach ulcers or other serious stomach disorders except under doctor's supervision. Do not give your child more than one antipyretic preparation except on medical advice. 

Aspirin should not be given to children under the age of 16. 

Further Information on the medicines listed above including dosage is available at

Alternative Therapies

Chamomilla has been used for centuries in teething for its soothing and healing properties. It is available as sachets of granules, TEETHA.  Empty the contents of one sachet into the child's mouth every two hours for up to six doses.

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Last update: 16/05/2013 12:38 • Previous update: 30/11/-0001 00:00