When your baby starts to teethe, you will see signs like red cheeks and sore red gums, and your baby may put their hands or other objects into their mouth, or dribble more than usual.
Teething symptoms are generally mild and localised. They include pain, increased biting, drooling, gum-rubbing, sucking, irritability, ear-rubbing, facial rash, decreased appetite, disturbed sleep, and (possibly) mild temperature.
To help your baby with their teething, try gently massaging their gums with a clean finger. A teething ring can be soothing too.
Teething rings give your baby something to chew safely. This may ease their discomfort and distract them from any pain. Some teething rings can be cooled first in the fridge, which may help to soothe your baby’s gums. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Never put a teething ring in the freezer or around a baby’s neck.
Allowing your child to bite on a clean cold wet flannel may also help. If your baby is six months or older, try giving them chilled fruit or vegetables such as bananas, cucumber, and melon – always under supervision to avoid the risk of choking. Avoid rusks as nearly all brands contain some sugar. Sugar free products are preferred as they do not promote tooth decay.
If your baby dribbles excessively it can lead to their chin, neck and chest becoming chapped or sore. Dribble bibs can be used to stop your baby’s clothes getting wet and can be used to dab the chin/mouth area to stop them staying wet. Change any wet clothing and apply a simple barrier cream to keep the skin soft and smooth.
Gels and solutions can be used to manage teething, but generally are unsupported by clinical evidence, so the methods above are recommended first. If you do decide to use a teething gel, make sure it is one which has been specially designed for young children. General oral pain relief gels are not suitable for children. Teething gels contain a mild local anaesthetic and are only available from pharmacies. There is no evidence that homeopathic teething gels are effective. If you use a homeopathic gel, make sure it is licensed in the UK. Some unlicensed homeopathic gels advertised on the internet have serious side effects.
It is important to remember that if a baby seems unusually listless and unhappy it may not be simple teething troubles. If they have for example, a high fever, this may indicate an underlying condition unrelated to teething and should be checked out with your GP – always contact your GP if you are unsure