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Sharp Health News

Easing teething: the good, the bad and the dangerous

Nov. 23, 2016

Easing teething: the good, the bad and the dangerous

As any harried parent knows, teething is not for the faint of heart. One day your baby is giggling through peek-a-boo and the next he’s hurling toys. It’s a battle parents have fought for years.

Today, trendy techniques are everywhere. There are rings, gems, gels — you name it. But do they work? And more importantly, are they safe? We asked Dr. Resham Batra, a pediatrician with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group to weigh in on this screamin’ issue.

What to expect
Your baby’s teeth will usually come in after 6 months of age, but it varies from child to child. The symptoms can vary too. “Sometimes babies are fussy or drool excessively,” says Dr. Batra. “Teething could cause an increase in body temperature, but it shouldn’t rise above 100 from it. And they may want to chew on something hard.”

Some parents report ear pulling, coughing or a runny nose — all things that shouldn’t be overlooked as “just” a teething symptom. “If your child is pulling his or her ear, it could be teething,” says Dr. Batra. “But it could also be something more serious, such as an infection. Teething shouldn’t cause cold symptoms. If any of these occur, call your baby’s doctor.”

The do’s
When it comes to teething pain, good old-fashioned tactics work best (well, except for the liquor-to-the-gums trick — can you believe we used to do that?). Something cold and firm placed directly on the gums will offer the best relief.

Dr. Batra suggests:

  • Freezer rings: Make sure they’re not too hard or too cold. Remove them from the freezer for a few minutes before giving to baby so they can soften up. Be sure the ring is intact and not pierced or broken.
  • Gentle massage: Wash your hands then rub the gums gently with your finger.
  • Pain medicine: An over-the-counter children’s pain medicine containing acetaminophen could help with the pain. Consult your baby’s doctor before use, and reference the dosage instructions based on your baby’s age.

The don’ts
For years, over-the-counter homeopathic remedies, such as pills and gels, were touted as a natural solution to teething. Then in September 2016, they were recalled for safety reasons. The problem? The FDA linked its ingredient, belladonna, to seizures, fever, tremors and even death.

They top Dr. Batra’s list of teething remedies to avoid:

  • Homeopathic teething products: As per American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, they are no longer recommended. Your child is not in danger if you have given these to him or her in the past, as the reaction has only been shown to occur at the time of use.
  • Amber necklaces: There is no scientific evidence to support that they work to help teething, and can pose a choking hazard. They can be used on the wrist or ankle if parents choose to use them, but should be removed when sleeping.
  • Dipped pacifier: Although a chilled pacifier can help with teething, dipping it in honey or sugar could cause tooth decay. Plus, honey contains spores that could cause a dangerous condition called infant botulism.

It’s important to remember that teething isn’t forever. Your baby’s teeth will find their way in, and eventually, the screaming will cease. Until then, sit back, breathe and remember it’s all just part of the adventure.

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