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5 Misconceptions About Children Teething

Babies grow up quickly. In addition to creeping, crawling, walking and talking, teething is part of the rapid development in your infant’s first year of life.

The eruption of teeth can be a challenging time for parents and children; however, many of the difficulties experienced may be related to something else all together. There are many misconceptions about teething, and we’ve examined a few of them to help guide you navigate this period in your little one’s growth.

Misconception #1 – Fever is a symptom of teething

It’s more likely associated with illness. You may hear conflicting opinions about fevers and teething, but the American Dental Association, Mayo Clinic as well as many other medical experts report that an elevated temperature is not a normal symptom. They also agree that diarrhea, another commonly listed symptom, is not normal.

Dr. Molly O’Shea of Birmingham Pediatrics Wellness Center agrees. In her blog post “Teething Myths and Reality,” she points out that, due to increased chewing and drooling, teething babies are often exposed to more viruses that can cause these symptoms.

Parents magazine cites a study published in Pediatrics that found no correlation between teething and congestion, sleep disturbance, coughs, vomiting, or fevers over 102 F. If your child seems ill, it’s best to have him or her examined by the pediatrician.

Misconception #2 – My child is 3 months old; she’s too young to be teething

Believe it or not, babies are born with their primary teeth. They begin developing them while still in the womb. Typically “baby teeth” begin to erupt around 6 months of age; however, they can emerge from beneath the gums as early 3 months and as late as 1 year. All 20 primary teeth have usually come in by the time a child turns 3.

Web MD lists the order of eruption as follows:

  1. The two bottom front teeth (central incisors)
  2. The four upper front teeth (central and lateral incisors)
  3. The two lower lateral incisors
  4. The first molars
  5. The four canines (located on either side next to the upper and lower lateral incisors)
  6. The remaining molars on either side of the existing line of teeth

Misconception #3 – Babies shouldn’t have solid foods until their teeth erupt.

As with most everything in parenting, just about everyone you know will have an opinion about what foods should be given to your child and when they should be introduced. Your child is capable of eating certain solid foods—foods that are soft or semi-soft—before his or her primary teeth erupt.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends breastfeeding as a sole source of nutrition until 6 months of age, provides these guidelines for determining your child’s developmental readiness for solid foods:

  • Can he hold his head up? Your baby should be able to sit in a high chair, feeding seat, or infant seat with good head control.
  • Does he open his mouth when food comes his way? Babies may be ready if they watch you eating, reach for your food, and seem eager to be fed.
  • Can he move food from a spoon into his throat? If you offer a spoon of rice cereal and he pushes it out of his mouth and it dribbles onto his chin, he may not have the ability to move it to the back of his mouth to swallow it. It’s normal. Remember, he’s never had anything thicker than breast milk or formula before, and this may take some getting used to. Try diluting it the first few times, then gradually thicken the texture. You may also want to wait a week or two and try again.
  • Is he big enough? Generally, when infants double their birth weight (typically at about 4 months) and weigh about 13 pounds or more, they may be ready for solid foods.

If you are concerned about whether or not your child is ready for solid foods, have a conversation with his or her physician.

Misconception #4 – Cavities can’t form in newly erupted teeth.

Good oral health should be a priority from the onset. The truth is that tooth decay and cavities can develop in newly erupted teeth.

Before teeth emerge, the Academy of General Dentistry suggests rubbing infant gums should be rubbed twice daily with a clean, damp cloth. Once teeth start coming in, you should gently brush them with a moistened children’s toothbrush. Talk to your dentist or pediatrician about when it is appropriate to begin using toothpaste.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends taking your child to a pediatric dentist as soon as his or her first tooth appears and no later than his or her first birthday. After that, your child—and you, too—should see his or her dentist every six months.

Misconception #5 – Teething means it’s time to stop nursing.

If you’ve chosen to nurse your baby, teething doesn’t mean you have to stop. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast milk be a child’s exclusive source of nutrition for the first six months. Once solid foods are introduced, mothers who breastfeed may continue to do so. The AAP’s recommendation is a minimum of one year and as long as mother and child mutually desire.

La Leche League International, an international organization that helps breastfeeding mothers, offers tips for making breastfeeding more comfortable while teeth are erupting.



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