Strictly speaking, teething begins when a baby’s teeth emerge from the gum. “There can be some local discomfort or pain at the point where the teeth have broken through the gum. There may even be a small amount of bleeding. Babies often start drooling more, and can become fussy and irritable,” said Dr Terence Tan, Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist from Kinder Clinic at Mount Alvernia Hospital.
Opinions are divided when it comes to the question of whether teething actually causes fever or diarrhoea. Dr Tan assures us that any symptoms of fever and diarrhoea due to teething are very mild and in many cases may not occur at all. If symptoms of fever or diarrhoea are severe, then the cause is probably not teething and likely to be due to an infection.
EASING THE PAIN OF TEETHING
There are many ways to relieve the discomfort associated with teething. However, the use of teething gels containing numbing medication such as benzocaine and lidocaine has been associated with some adverse reactions. Dr Tan urges parents to consult their doctor before using these products.
Aside from medication, there are several safe and effective strategies to soothe the symptoms of teething.
WHEN THE SYMPTOMS PERSIST
Dr Tan emphasises that most babies who experience discomfort due to teething have mild, short-lived symptoms. If the symptoms are severe or prolonged beyond one or two days, it is safer to consult the doctor. In situations where there is high fever, vomiting, bad diarrhoea or extreme loss of appetite, the main priority is to rule out serious infections, and the baby should be seen by a doctor earlier rather than later.
The best part about teething is that it comes to an end. When your little one fnally has a full set of pearly baby teeth, it’s reason for everyone to smile.
Article contributed by Dr Terence Tan, an accredited doctor of Mount Alvernia Hospital.