Teething Teething

A baby's bottom front teeth usually erupt between 4-6 months and the top two between 5-7 months. The rest of the teeth come in over the coming two years. The appearance of teeth coincides with the baby becoming more exploratory, and putting everything in his/her mouth. Also, the child is more social. Parents are also less vigilant about people coming up close and touching the baby. Hence, the baby is exposed to more respiratory viruses and can have a scratchy throat or other symptom of a mild virus. The front teeth don't seem to 'hurt' babies. They seem "aware" of the incoming teeth, and will play/touch them a lot.

Around nine months, many babies pull on their ears as the side teeth come in. This is because the teeth are moving near the nerve that goes to the ear. Often babies will be brought to the pediatricians' office with the suspicion of an ear infection. There's no infection, but a tooth is imminent. Toddlers will often do a lot of mouthing of objects with the incisors and canines come in. Sometimes there will be a little blue blister over the erupting tooth. This is due to a vein being trapped under the gum. This can be painful. As the tooth pushes through, the pressure is relieved.

In many cultures, it is thought that teething itself causes fever and pain. In the Middle Ages, it was thought that each erupting tooth represented the release of bad "vapors". Amulets and other tokens were used to treat 'teething fevers'. The pilgrims of New England (l600's AD) used to use a wolf's tooth amulet as a treatment for really high "teething" fevers. For many people in ancient cultures, teething was an obligatory and feared rite of passage. In our culture, many people think that a baby can get a fever as he/her "teethes". It is much more like that the the baby experiencing a mild virus with a resultant scratchy throat and being 'cranky' (from the German word , kranke = sick).Most babies are "fussy" some of the time. A baby who used to be "angelic" might not be as placid anymore. This can also be a hard period if baby's personality development coincides with the eruption of the first teeth. There is a hypothesis that his fussiness is a 'mood'. As a baby's vision improves, he/she will see something he/she wants to touch and play with something. The baby is becoming frustrated at his/her inability to reach out and grab something. Hence the fussiness. Many parents use Tylenol or Motrin for 'teething'. If a baby has upper respiratory symptoms such as a new onset "runny" nose, he/she might be having a scratchy throat and using a pain killer like Tylenol at bedtime is understandable. But parents should not use pain killers for "mouth/fussy" behaviors. It is thought that this could lead to rebound headaches if given on a regular basis, in the way adults who frequently use acetaminophen and other pain medications report a low grade headache when they don't take them.