Teething is the stage of your child's life when the first teeth begin to come in. When the teeth come up through the gums, they can cause significant pain. Because this condition is temporary, treatment involves relieving symptoms; if your baby is having discomfort, you can place something cold on the gums or give him or her over-the-counter pain relievers.
What Is Teething In Infants?
Teething is a normal process in which the first teeth of an infant begin to "erupt" and come up through the gums. It is one of those inevitable growing pains that every baby goes through. For some little ones, teething comes and goes without as much as a whimper. For other babies (and their parents), it might be an ordeal with many nights of lost sleep.
Don't feel neglectful if you realize, once the tooth appears, that the attitude change was due to teething. Next time you will know what to expect!
How Do I Know When My Baby Is Teething?
The first painful cries of a teething baby can be difficult to figure out. The condition can be difficult to diagnose because there is little visible evidence to guide parents to the source of the pain.
When a baby begins teething, parents need to rely on other external signs and symptoms that do not include actually seeing the first pearly whites pushing through. This can include such signs as:
- Increased drooling
- Hand biting (your little one may find comfort in shoving their entire fist in their mouth, not just a thumb)
- The new or increased need to bite or chew on anything (just like a puppy)
- Nighttime wakefulness
If your baby does begin showing many, or even all, of the symptoms of teething, it is still no guarantee that teething is the source of the troubles. If your baby is experiencing pain that is not clearly coming from his gums and is acting differently, it is always best to consult with your child's healthcare provider.
As you begin to notice an increase in teething symptoms, check your baby's lower gums. They usually get harder or swollen just before the new teeth begin to crown.
(Click Teething Symptoms and Signs for more information.)