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Teething Questions Never End

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

I saw a lot of nine to 15-month-old babies yesterday and there were many questions related to teething.  Your child may get their first tooth as early as three to four months of age on up to 18-20 months of age. The average age for a baby to cut their first tooth is usually around six months of age, and typically the lower central incisors are the first teeth to erupt.

There have been many articles written on teething, but the longer I practice the less I believe that parents, or doctors for that matter, can tell if there is a lot of pain associated with teething.

It seems if any baby or toddler is fussy, whiny, clingy or not sleeping, it is often attributed to teething. But children will cut 20 teeth in the first two to three years of life and the majority of the time they do so without a lot of fuss or even suspicion until a tooth is suddenly there.

If they have pain related to teething it is probably only for a day or two prior to the actual eruption of the tooth. It is certainly not days and nights on end. As parents we want to be able to blame these difficult your-baby moods on something so why not teeth as a new one is always somewhere in the gums.

Children will also lose all of these baby teeth beginning around 5 years of age and here we go again with new teeth erupting.

But, no one is blaming poor grades at school, or inappropriate manners, or fighting with your sibling on teething pain! It just doesn’t make sense that it hurts when younger than older, a tooth is a tooth.

So…that being said, I am not a big fan of oral topical analgesics for teething. They just make the mouth numb and the tongue too as the child spreads the “goop” all over their mouth.

I do think you can give an infant a dose of Tylenol if you see a tooth erupting, but only for a day or two.

Many of the mothers and dads I talked to today had been giving daily and nightly doses of medication as they thought their child’s awakening must be teeth. I am afraid it is probably more a habit of awakening and that needs to be addressed but not with nightly Tylenol or Advil. Wish I could ask the tooth fairy for a comment.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

Send your question to Dr. Sue!

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