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Teething is an important developmental milestone in babies and although it can cause discomfort for some children, there is little to no risk to baby during this time.
The emergence of infant deciduous teeth or ‘milk’ teeth can begin from as early as 12 weeks old. There are 20 primary teeth that can continue to erupt into the child’s third year.
While there are no hard and fast rules as to how teeth erupt in infants, they will typically emerge in pairs. The general pattern starts with the top and bottom central incisors, followed by the lateral incisors. The first set of molars follow, then the canine teeth with the final set of molars usually last.
Although the process is often referred to as ‘cutting’ teeth, the eruption of teeth does not actually cut the flesh. A special enzyme is released during teething that causes some of the cells in the gum to die off, allowing teeth to come through.
The teething process can cause discomfort for some children, with interrupted sleep, a slightly elevated temperature and general irritability often observable in babies and toddlers.
Facial rashes, disrupted feeding patterns and even diarrhoea are all sometimes attributed to teething, although there is no firm medical evidence linking loose stools with teething.
Rashes during teething are most times the result of the additional saliva produced during the teething process, which leads to excess drool. Saliva is acidic and it is this can that cause a rash around the mouth, chin and even the folds of the neck.
It’s a good idea to get into the routine of looking after baby’s oral hygiene early. Although teeth may not arrive until baby is some many months old, little gums still benefit from a gentle cleaning to removing milk debris and food particles.
Dampen some gauze or a clean face cloth and gently wipe along the lower and upper gum, being careful not to apply too much pressure. If baby will sit still long enough, you can also give gums a gentle brush after dipping a baby toothbrush in water.
Once teeth have started to emerge, continue to brush them with water. Remember, only ever use toothpaste once a child can rinse and spit.
Learn more about Oral Care By Age
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