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Coping With Infant Teething Problem

Aug 17, 2007
Teething is a normal process by which an infant begins to cut the first teeth (primary dentition). The relationship between the eruption of the deciduous teeth and the general health of infants has been documented for over 5,000 years. Various physical disturbances (anything from minor upsets to potentially fatal illnesses) have historically been applied to teething. It is now accepted that the localized symptoms of teething vary between individuals.

On average, infants begin teething at six months and by the age of three years all the first teeth have erupted. A variety of symptoms reported in medical literatures. They include:

* Decreased appetite for solid foods;
* Biting, drooling, ear-rubbing, ear-pulling, and gum-rubbing;
* Irritability (crying);
* Coughing
* Rash on face;
* Sucking;
* Inflamed gums and red cheeks;
* Feeding problems;
* Abnormal temperature (defined as being greater than a child's own mean temperature plus 1 standard deviation or fevers greater than 102F);
* Wakefulness (sleep disturbance);
* Smelly urine
* Congestion;
* Convulsions; and
* Stool looseness

There is no evidence that teething was associated with any severe, health-threatening conditions. Thus, before charging any signs or symptoms of a potentially serious illness to teething, doctors and parents must rule out other possible causes. Severe systemic upsets are unrelated to teething and, if present, the infant should be promptly referred to a physician for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. In addition, most healthcare professionals believe that teething predisposes to infections, most commonly colds and ear infections.

All of these symptoms result in a distressed child and anxious parents. Professionals in all groups believed that parents experience as much (or more) distress as the infants themselves. However, "teething" continues to be a confusing illness that is often misdiagnosed by both healthcare professionals and lay people.

The treatment modalities used in teething have been diverse throughout the ages, frequently depending on the beliefs of the medical profession and laypeople. The modern principles for managing teething involve pain relief and supportive measures.

Some teething symptoms can be eased effectively at home with teething aids such as cold teething rings. Over-the-counter treatments are available. Pain relief is provided mainly in the form of analgesic (Tylenol) and anaesthetic gels (for examples: oragel, Paracetamol, and teething gels). Some of these topical gels also have antiseptic properties. Moreover, gels such as those containing choline salicylate can be applied direct to the gums specifically to relieve pain and inflammation. Some medical professionals also recommend antibiotics or naturopathic medications. The "alternative" therapies, although they are not well documented in the medical literature, are also helpful.
About the Author
For more information, contact Dr. Nguyen at drnguyen@softdental.com or visit http://www.softdental.com (Houston's Premier Laser, Family, and Cosmetic Dentistry) .
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