The joys and Tribulations of Childcare

A collection of articles written by mothers about their own experiences of raising children.

Teething and tooth care

Teething is often a bittersweet part of infancy. The presence of teeth is a very outward sign that your baby is growing and changing, but it can also be a painful process. The first tooth does not typically erupt through the gum line until a baby is at least 4 to 6 months old, but he or she might begin feeling symptoms of teething weeks or even months beforehand.

Signs of teething and what to do

The most obvious signs of teething include drooling and a strong urge to chew. Offer clean teething rings or teething toys; chewing often lessens the pain of the moving tooth. If you are breastfeeding, nursing can help soothe your baby during painful teething periods. If your baby is eating solids, it might be comforting to eat cold foods since this will numb the gums and also provide distraction. Infant pain relievers might also offer relief, but talk with your child’s pediatrician first.

Don't confuse teething with other problems

Sometimes other issues, such as fever or diahorrohea, can occur at the same time as teething. If this happens, talk with your pediatrician rather than automatically assuming these issues are symptoms of teething.

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Tooth care

Once your baby has teeth, they need to be taken care of properly. Whilst still an infant, you can use a clean, damp cloth to gently wipe the teeth before bed. After several teeth have arrived, try introducing a soft-bristled toothbrush so your baby can get used to the feeling of it in his mouth. Remember to use fluoride-free toothpaste until your child is old enough to spit out the toothpaste after brushing. Fluoride toothpaste should not be swallowed.

Keep an eye on them

Regular check-ups from a dentist are an important part of your child’s dental health. The current guidance from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry is to have your child seen when the first tooth appears, or no later than the first birthday. Many parents opt to schedule their child’s first appointment when all 20 baby teeth have come in, usually by around 3 years old. Use your judgment and the advice of your pediatrician to determine the timing that is best for your family.

Other tooth-protective measures

In addition to regular brushing and dental visits, there are several other things you can do to decrease the likelihood of cavities and decay in your child’s mouth. Limit the amount of sugar in your child’s diet. Even natural sugars, like those found in apple juice and raisins, can lead to cavities. Try teaching your child to use a straw style sippy cup rather than the valve style. Straws draw the liquid past the teeth instead of over them. Offer water often. Remember that even though those baby teeth are eventually going to fall out, they should still be well taken care of in the meantime!


Please be aware that the articles on this site are written by mothers who are discussing their own experiences and their own opinions. They do not, and are not meant to, represent professional advice and should be read with that point firmly in mind.

Our children’s welfare is paramount; if you are ever in the slightest doubt about any aspect of caring for a child you are urged to seek qualified, specialist advice from a professional advisor.

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