Between about 13 and 19 months, toddlers are set for their first set of molars to erupt. While some make it through the teething process relatively unscathed, others experience a range of symptoms that may include pain, irritability, sleeplessness, inflamed gums, drooling, rash and relentless chewing or gum rubbing. At two years of age, when the second set of molars begins to erupt, these symptoms can intensify for some children.
For parents, watching our children deal with teething pain is difficult. Of course, seeing our children suffer is painful, but dealing with sleepless nights, all-day fussiness and clinginess can take a toll on our own health, as well. Luckily, there are several ways to help ease toddler teething pain and make things a little bit easier for both our children and ourselves.
Cold Foods and Drinks
Soft foods and drinks that are cold in temperature may help to soothe your child’s pain. It’s important to keep in mind that nutritious, low-sugar snacks are vital to preserving your child’s oral health. Some healthy snacks that may help ease teething pain include:
- Chilled applesauce or smashed bananas
- Frozen yogurt tubes
- Ice water in a sippy cup
- Chilled fruit in a mesh feeder
- Home-made popsicles
Note: Ice cubes can be a choking hazard — be sure to offer ice water in a cup with a lid. If your child prefers to drink without a lid, offer cold water without the ice cubes.
Teething and Chewing Toys
There is a broad range of toys on the market that are marketed towards teething toddlers. These toys work because they put counterpressure on the gum as the new tooth is pushing through. Some of the most effective teething toys contain silicone. Silicone is soft, so it doesn’t damage teeth or gums, but firm enough to provide sufficient counterpressure. To provide additional soothing, place silicone chew beads or toys in the fridge before offering them to your child. If you don’t have teething toys in the house and need something in a pinch, a washcloth soaked with cold water can do the trick, too.
Note: Be wary of liquid or gel-filled teething toys. These can easily break when chewed on by toddlers who already have multiple teeth in their mouths. Additionally, these toys can become too hard when frozen and cause damage to teeth and gums.
Over the Counter Pain Medications
Over the counter pain medications such as children’s ibuprofen and acetaminophen are sometimes the best solution for a toddler who is experiencing extreme teething pain. Be sure to follow the directions on the package when offering these medications to your child and make sure to try alternative methods before resorting to medication.
If your child will allow it, gently massaging their gums can work wonders in relieving their teething pain. Before performing a gum massage on your child, be sure to clean your hands and underneath your fingernails. Then run cool water over your fingers and gently massage the gums in a circular motion. Gum massages can be most helpful when performed before meals, as well as at bedtime.
Nursing or Breastfeeding
If your toddler is still breastfeeding, nursing or offering breastmilk in a cup can go a long way in providing comfort and pain relief. Of course, your toddler’s natural inclination to chew or gnaw while teething may get in the way of a successful nursing session. In this case, a good option is to provide chilled breastmilk in a sippy cup or even breastmilk popsicles, which can easily be made using pumped milk and a popsicle mold.
Other Ways to Help Your Teething Toddler
When your toddler is in pain, their stress levels are likely through the roof. It’s crucial to make sure you’re not adding to their stress by changing their routine. Make sure that you stay on the schedule they’re used to. That means keeping the same bedtime, the same nap time, and continuing to follow the routine they’re used to before bed and nap time. For some parents, fussy and irritable toddlers may be more difficult to settle and stick to their exact routine may be difficult but keeping things as normal as possible, you might find that their symptoms are easier to soothe with the options listed above.
Offering plenty of love, cuddles, and emotional support is one of the most important things you can do to help soothe teething pain. It’s important to try to remain calm and patient with your little one. Love and understanding can be just the thing they need to calm down and handle the pain that they’re feeling.
When to See Your Pediatric Dentist
Sometimes toddlers can develop an eruption cyst where a tooth is beginning to break through the gum. These can seem alarming but usually resolve on their own. Because the tooth erupts through the cyst, treatment is usually not necessary. If the cyst does not rupture spontaneously or becomes infected, the top of the cyst can be easily removed by your pediatric dentist.
As a general rule, if you see or feel anything that seems unusual, then you should certainly see your pediatric dentist. We are always happy to answer any questions or see your child if you have any concerns.
Schedule an appointment today at Pediatric Dentistry by calling (904) 215-7800.