Put Your Best Tooth Forward


When do Babies Teethe?

Teething! Every parents nemesis! It seems like teething lasts absolutely forever – but does it really? Teeth can start coming in as early as three months, six is typical, and some kidlets don’t have any until 12 months! By about three years old, your little one will have all 20 primary teeth. Whoo! Whoo!

Which teeth did your babe get first? Typically the front lowers come in first, followed by the front uppers. Like everything with your babies, they might be off the norm, and that’s okay! Once teeth started happening in our house it was, and continues to be, the excuse when things are off. Fever – must be popping a molar. Bum rash – oh, those darn eye teeth. Drool – man oh man, will these teeth ever leave my kids alone?

What to Watch Out For

Apparently studies show that teething doesn’t cause fever, diarrhea, or diaper rash. As a Mama of two, I would beg to differ! Honestly, the only time my daughter ever has a bum rash is when she is popping a tooth.

So what else can we watch for? Drool is a big one, which often causes other great things like rashes on babes chin, face, or chest. Often times these are at the most opportune moments, such as when you’ve booked a photographer to take family photos, or your extended family is coming from out of town and they haven’t seen your kids in forever, or if you have to go on an airplane and you run out of drool bibs because you just can’t keep up with the copious amounts pouring out of your babes mouth! But this won’t happen to you. Thanks to my blog you will be the prepared mama with 10+ drool bibs in her baby bag and an empty extra-large Ziploc baggie on the ready to hold the used bibs until they can be washed (note: Do not forget about the full extra-large Ziploc baggie in your baby bag, or you will be in for a nasty surprise down the road when you go searching for a lost soother or favourite toy!)

Biting! Babes might bite on fingers, toys or anything they can get their hands on to try and relieve the pressure in their gums. Make sure you give them safe things to chew on, like a cold wet face cloth, so they aren’t crawling over to the nearest electrical cord and chomping down! New teeth can also make breastfeeding a very enjoyable experience! If your babe is biting down during breastfeeding, pull them firmly TOWARDS you, without saying anything and keeping your face void of expression. This will elicit a natural reflex for them to let go of your breast. Put them down for a quick regroup and then bravely try again when ready.

Fussiness! Yes, cutting teeth is painful work! Your babes gums are sore and swollen about three to five days before the tooth even rears its little head, and should disappear as soon as the tooth breaks through the skin. Some babes are super sensitive and will need a lot of comfort and cuddles during this time. Other kids will seemingly go to bed one night and wake up with a mouth full of teeth! I had one of each in our family, and I definitely prefer the latter!

If your babes symptoms are severe and not getting better and/or if your mama bear instinct is screaming at you, always ere on the side of caution and utilize the appropriate resources – make an appointment with your family doctor, call your local Health Link (8-1-1 in Alberta), visit a walk in clinic, or go to your local Emergency ward.

What Can You Do to Help?

So often as parents, we feel helpless or unprepared for certain situations. When our little ones are teething, love and cuddles go a long way to making them feel better! You can also try some or all of the following things to get them on the mend:

  • Rub the affected gum using a clean finger or cold (not frozen) teething ring for about two minutes at a time. They might protest at first, but usually this is soothing.
  • Provide safe objects for babe to chew on.
  • Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about the correct dose of over-the-counter pain relief medicine, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to relieve discomfort and swelling.
  • The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) does not recommend using teething gels for your baby – some contain ‘benzocaine’ which can make their throat numb. This could potentially cause trouble swallowing and possibly harm your child.

Alternative Options

If you’ve tried all of the above and are looking for more options, look no further! Here are some great alternatives to consider – just like any therapy, if you are sure it isn’t harmful to your babe, you can try it safely, and it might make them feel better then its worth a shot!

  • Momsicles – Freeze your breastmilk in cubes – put in a teething feeder, or freeze around a pacifier in an ice cube tray for babe to suck on.
  • Camilia – benzocaine, paraben, and belladonna-free. It’s also vegan. They come in single-use liquid doses that you squeeze into your baby’s mouth. Boiron’s Camilia is a combination of three concentrated plants: German chamomile, Poke, and Rhubarb. Together, these herbal concentrations help alleviate baby teething pain associated with sore gums (chamomile), irritability (poke) and tummy troubles (rhubarb). You can buy them at most drugstores.
  • Amber necklaces – Baltic stone contains succinic acid, which is said to decrease inflammation. No studies support the claim that these work, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to say that they do.
  • Oils – becoming more and more popular in North America. Copaiba and clove oil especially are said to be great options for dealing with the pain and discomfort of teething. Contact a local expert to hook you up with high quality oils and the proper instructions on how to use them.

And Now, for the Real Fun – Grab that Brush!

All you parents out there know how much fun brushing teeth can be. I feel like my kids go through a love-hate relationship with their toothbrush. Some days they can’t wait to brush, and other days I’m chasing them around the house threatening that the sugar bugs will rot their teeth! Not really, but it can definitely be a challenge at times. First off, try to avoid the power struggle. If possible, have options of different tooth brushes (colours / styles) and tooth paste flavours, that way you can offer your strong willed little people choices i.e. Johnny, tonight would you like to brush with Buzz Lightyear or Star Wars? Berrylicous or mint flavour? Awesome, great choice! Another fabulous tool is the “WHEN / THEN” statement i.e. Johnny, WHEN you brush your teeth, THEN we can read an awesome bedtime story! These will go a long way to getting you what you want in the end – less time for your child in the dental chair!

Make sure to clean your baby’s gums with a soft cloth or gauze pad. This helps to remove plaque before their first tooth comes in. I always liked to do this during the bath when cloths are readily available and baby is happy and relaxed.

Baby bottle tooth decay is something we can avoid by always taking the bottle out of our baby’s mouth as soon as they are finished drinking. Clean your babes teeth after feeding, especially at night. Once your babe is older, putting a bottle or sippy cup in the crib/bed with them overnight makes sure they stay hydrated – just be sure it’s water in the cup not juice (sugar bugs are real and juice contains just as much sugar as pop – yikes!).

Our goal, as parents of children with teeth, is to prevent tooth decay. Offer healthy foods low in sugar and keep milk (other than breastmilk) feedings during the night to a minimum. The CDA recommends using an appropriately sized toothbrush with a smear (size of a grain of rice) of baby toothpaste. Try to encourage your babe to spit out as much of the toothpaste as possible when they are done brushing, and remember, it’s A-okay to use water on it’s own to brush with, as long as babes diet is good. Brushing twice a day under adult supervision is an awesome goal, and most importantly at bedtime.

Floss only the teeth you want to keep!Unknown (Dr. McMurdo's Office)

Don’t forget to floss! When I was young they didn’t have all these cool options for flossing – it was wax on or wax off! Now we have floss sticks that come in tons of different shapes, animals and colours. We try to floss as part of the bedtime routine, and during the bath is a great option!

Leave it to the Professionals

Try not to miss your well baby family doctor visits. During these examinations, one of the topics your doctor should be asking about, and/or checking on, is your child’s dental health.

According to the CDA, visit the dentist with your child within six months of their first tooth eruption, or no later than your child’s first birthday. Double check with the dentist whether your child is high risk – this will determine if they should use fluoride or fluoride-free toothpaste.

Teething is a primary force in your child’s life. Please use these tips and tricks to make their life (and yours) a little easier! Share and tag a mama who could use them too – Sharing is Caring! Happy teething everyone!

About the Author
Jenny Hamilton

Jenny Hamilton


My name is Jenny and I’m a registered nurse, lactation counselor and sleep coach. I have been an RN for over 14 years and am fiercely passionate about making this Mama journey easier for the entire family. I am married to my high school crush and we have two beautiful, strong, and busy children 👦🏼👧🏼. It takes a village to raise a child, and as the Mama Coach Grande Prairie, I look forward to being one of your villagers!

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