Your baby’s first tooth will usually start to come in around six months of age. You are probably wondering what your baby gums look like when teething. Generally, your baby’s gum will appear red and perhaps be slightly swollen before the new tooth emerges.
When your infant sprouts his first tooth it is a major milestone in his development. Most parents look forward to that first sparkling incisor. However, many new parents don’t know exactly if their baby is growing a tooth or is suffering from some other ailment. A visual inspection can help them determine if it is indeed a new chomper.
What is Teething Pain?
Your baby’s red and swollen gums are not the only indication that your little one is getting a new tooth. Teething is a painful process as the tiny tooth slowly erupts and cuts through the delicate tissue of the gum. The process takes up to three months before the tooth actually breaks through the fragile gum tissue. During that time, your baby might be experiencing varying levels of discomfort which can cause irritability.
Inspecting Your Baby’s Gums
You should visually inspect your baby’s gums to look for any signs of teething. Here are the steps needed to sucessfully look at your baby’s gums.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and an antibacterial soap. Dry your hands before placing them in your infant’s mouth.
- Look closely at your baby’s lips and chin to see if there is any excessive drool. Extra salivation is a strong indication of teething.
- Inspect your baby’s face for any signs of a rosy rash. The rash is often on the baby’s cheeks or around the lips and chin.
- Gently push back your baby’s lips so you can see his gums. Look for any swelling or bulges.
- Run your fingertip gently across your baby’s gums to feel for swelling or a sharp emerging tooth.
Some babies even develop a small bluish cyst where the tooth will emerge. This is nothing to be concerned about and is just an indication that the tooth will soon be breaking through the gum’s surface.
Symptoms of Teething
Here are the signs and symptoms to watch for that indicate your baby is teething. Some babies will have all of these symptoms and others may have only a few. In a recent study done by the American Academy of Pediatrics, it was found that 35 percent of all babies experienced no telltale symptoms of teething.
- Not sleeping well
- Avoiding solid foods
- Ear pulling or rubbing
- Gum rubbing
- Chewing on things
- Excessive sucking
- Mild facial rash
- A low fever
Ways to Relieve Teething Discomfort
If your baby is suffering from teething discomfort then there are ways to help relieve his pain.
When your baby is teething you can gently massage his gums with your fingertips to bring him relief.
Take a clean washcloth and wet it with cool water. Run the washcloth across your infant’s gums lightly. Some babies will try to chew and suck on the washcloth in an effort to alleviate their discomfort. Use the washcloth to clean away any excessive drool to prevent a rash from occurring on the baby’s cheeks, chin, or lips.
Offer your baby teething toys. Teething toys are designed for a baby to safely chew on. Many can be placed in the freezer for a few hours and then will emerge hard and cold which brings almost instant relief to your baby’s mouth.
Feed your little one cold foods such as yogurt or applesauce. Popsicles and frozen fruit are also ideal choices.For small babies, place the cold food in a safe mesh food bag that is made especially for babies. The bag prevents your baby from swallowing large pieces of fruit so he does not choke.
Teething biscuits have been specially designed to taste good and help the new tooth works its way through the gum.
Provide a pain reliever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen if your baby is over six months old. It is advised that you consult with your pediatrician before giving your infant a pain reliever of any kind.
Avoid Old Wives Tales
For centuries, parents have turned to home remedies to relieve the pain and discomfort of teething. However, some things should be avoided even if previous generations have used the methods.
Aspirin: Never place an aspirin on your baby’s new tooth or gums. In fact, you should never give your infant any kind of aspirin because of the danger of Reye’s syndrome.
Teething Tablets: Teething tablets are normally only for older children. An infant can choke on the tablet.
Numbing Gels: There are a wide array of numbing gels available for sore gums but they are not suitable for an infant and may contain harmful medications. The United States Food and Drug Administration reports that numbing gels that contain certain medication such as lidocaine and benzocaine can cause seizures, confusion, heart abnormalities and even death.
Rubbing Alcohol: Previous generations would massage rubbing alcohol into an infant’s gums but this is dangerous and should be never be done on an infant, toddler, or child.
Amber Necklaces: Many people believe that amber will relieve the gum pain from a new tooth but such practices do not work and pose choking and strangulation hazards to the baby.
Whiskey: Dipping a cloth in whiskey to ease a baby’s discomfort is potentially dangerous
What the Experts Say
“If an infant has a temperature, excessive irritability, decreased eating, increased sleeping, or other symptoms such as vomiting, a cough, or a rash, it is unlikely that teething is the culprit. If your infant is experiencing such symptoms, or the irritability is excessive, you should touch base with your pediatrician.”
Edward Kulich, MD of New York, NY.
“Teething symptoms can begin early in life, although the first teeth aren’t visible until around 9 to 12 months of age. Often parents confuse the oral fixation phase of infants, around 2 months of age, with teething because of the desire of the infant to put things in their mouth and the excessive drool. As they age, the symptoms improve until they are truly teething.”
Pediatrician Dr. Jarrett Patton of Pennsylvania
“Don’t assume that a fever is caused by teething, because there could be other things going on.”
Kevin Hale, spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
Knowing what your baby’s gums look like when teething will help you determine if your baby’s cranky disposition is actually caused by a new pearly white emerging through the delicate tissue. If you suspect that your little one is struggling with a new tooth then you can take steps to help relieve your baby’s discomfort.