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Experts Corner

Dentistry

Teething
by Jennifer Holtzman, DDS, Executive Director, ToothWoman Network

Jennifer Holtzman, DDSAlthough parents are theoretically prepared for teething, we’re surprised when it happens. Sometimes an infant will have a lot of discomfort; other times the tooth’s arrival in the mouth is quite a surprise.

What to Look For
Teething infants can have many seemingly unrelated symptoms: an elevated temperature, diarrhea, and increased saliva. Skin eruptions may occur as well as stomach problems. The most important thing for a parent to know about teething is that when your infant has pain in the mouth, he or she can become dehydrated, and there are serious consequences of dehydration - so it’s important to make sure that teething infants get enough liquids.

What You Can Do to Ease the Pain of Teething What can you do to ease your child’s teething pain? Teething is best treated with cold pressure, letting the infant “chew” on cold teething rings or washcloths may be helpful and provide some relief. Non-aspirin pain relievers can also be very helpful. If the situation lasts longer than 24 hours, have the child see a physician to rule out other possible causes of distress.

Precautions for Teething Infants
Because the gum around the newly erupted tooth may be sensitive, you may be tempted to avoid cleaning the area. But it’s important to keep the area around a newly erupted tooth clean. These areas tend to collect food and bacteria. Keeping the area around a newly erupted tooth clean will help control any pain or infections of the gum. The problem should go away as the new tooth achieves its normal position.

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