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We’ve all heard the nightmarish teething horror stories. Some even call it the mombie apocalypse. (Just kidding, but you might feel like a zombie from the lack of sleep). Those silly new teeth can really be a pain for both you and your baby. Here are a few answers to commonly asked teething questions to help you as you start (or continue to deal with) these tricky times. 

How do I know my child is teething? What are the symptoms?

Teething can happen when your child is anywhere from 6 to 14 months old, and it is pretty easy to discover. Your baby might be up at all hours of the night, and they can be very, very grouchy. Luckily, the pain is usually mild enough that they can still be distracted by other things. It’s also common for your baby to chew, bite, suck, and drool on anything (so keep those unfriendly objects out of reach)! A very low-grade fever, loss of appetite, and a mouth rash are also common teething symptoms. Just be on the lookout for symptoms that are more severe, like diarrhea or severe pain--these can be signs of something else that is wrong, like sickness or an ear infection. 

What can I do to keep my child’s mouth healthy?

It’s important to keep babies’ mouths clean from the start. Taking your child to the dentist before they are 1 year old, brushing their teeth with tap water (which contains just enough fluoride for new teeth, and not too much as to cause brown spots), and making sure they don’t fall asleep with the sippy are all things to do to ensure good dental hygiene. 

What things should I avoid?

The FDA does not recommend teething gels or homeopathic teething tablets. These things can be harmful to your baby, and will not be the most beneficial product to ease their pain. Additionally, any oral products containing benzocaine should be avoided like the plague. They can cause blood conditions and the belladonna found in teething tablets can cause responses that are “unpredictable and [put] them at unnecessary risk” (Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research). 

What can I do to help my baby?

The American Pediatric Association recommends “cold items because the cold acts as an anesthetic for the gums.” So chilled applesauce, frozen juice, anything of the sort has been mom tested and approved. Another product that has been found to help (also mom tested and approved) is the Nippii pacifier, which keeps those gums nice and chilled while remaining soft enough for them to chomp down on without damaging their teeth. 

Why are baby teeth important?

Baby teeth allow your baby to smile, talk, and eat--and, aren’t they so cute?! And as they get older, these baby teeth save places for the permanent teeth that will eventually come. So when dealing with the anger and slobber, just remember that it’s all worth it! (and that it *hopefully* will be over soon).