Teething Frequently Asked Questions - Savina Dental Clinics Malta and Gozo

Teething is arguably one of the most difficult times in a child’s development. This is when your child’s first teeth start to come out. This period is both confusing and frustrating for the child and the parents. To make this challenging time bearable for your child, you need to know what teething entails and how to manage it.

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12 Teething Frequently Asked Questions

When does teething start?

Teething can start anywhere between 3 and 7 months. In most cases, the first teeth start pushing their way through your child’s gum between 4 and 7 months. The front two bottom teeth are usually the first to appear on your little one’s gum line. The upper lateral and central incisors follow in about 4 to 8 weeks.

How long does it last?

A child has 20 milk teeth that erupt over around two years. By age 3 a child should have the full set of milk teeth. The teething process takes about 8 days per tooth. This is a period where your child has to contend with pain or irritation on the gums as they push their way through.

How do I know when my baby starts teething?

During the stressful teething period, your little one tends to rub their ear on the same side as an erupting tooth, their gums may appear red and sore, and their dribbling increases. Cheeks or face can appear red or flushed. Another common symptom is where your child wants to bite anything they come across. And when they don’t have anything to bite, they will rub their gums using their fingers.

What do baby teeth look like?

Baby teeth tend to stand out from permanent teeth. First off, they are bright white.  You can differentiate them from permanent teeth because the latter have a yellow shade. They are also smaller in size than adult teeth.

Is teething painful?

Teething can be somewhat painful, but the main problem is that your child is not used to dealing with an uncomfortable situation. This explains why children experience tremendous distress during the teething period.

Is there a way I can make my baby feel better?

What makes teething more frustrating is watching your child struggling with discomfort. You want to make them feel better but you do not know how to do it.

There are a few things you can do to ease your child’s discomfort during teething. For instance, a frozen teething ring will help numb your child’s pain. Some pain relievers may also come in handy – infant paracetamol or infant ibuprofen are commonly used. Additionally, you can rub your baby’s gum gently with a soft wet cloth.

Teething gels are also commonly used but their effectiveness is questionable as they are quickly washed away with saliva. They normally contain a topical anaesthetic for pain relief and so should not be used in excessive amounts as this is swallowed. Should you decide to use one anyway, follow the dosage instructions. Also, make sure you use sugar-free brands to avoid risking decay of the new teeth!

Do teething babies develop eating problems?

Babies have different experiences when teething. While some might find chewing food to be painful, others find it quite relieving. If your baby seems to refuse some food they used to enjoy, they are probably experiencing pain when chewing. Therefore, you should give them soft foods. But if they find relief chewing on various objects, the chances are that they will not develop any eating problems. It is common for babies to feed less while teething.

When should I start to brush my child’s teeth?

teething problems for kids - savina dental clinics malta and gozo

You should start cleaning your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts. This should not be necessarily brushing. Use a piece of clean cloth or a baby toothbrush to clean your child’s teeth. The objective is to prevent plaque from building up.

At this age, do not use toothpaste. When your child is 18 months old, introduce a smear (rice grain size) of fluoride-containing toothpaste. See to it that your child spits the toothpaste after brushing.

At this point, you should brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day. That is in the morning and before bed.

Can I still breastfeed?

Breastfeeding and oral health have an excellent relationship. Your baby will undoubtedly be in distress during the teething period. Nursing will provide much-needed relief. Moreover, your baby will want to breastfeed more and be close to you during these difficult times.

A child may also bite the mother’s breast, and if you startle them with a loud shriek, they may cry. You need to handle them with gentleness and care when this happens. Try to find a better way to stop your child from biting on the breast.

Do baby teeth have roots?

Surprisingly, your baby’s tooth roots start developing while they are still in utero. The roots, as well as the tooth, lay beneath your child’s gum until they begin to erupt. When the time comes, an underlying permanent tooth starts to wear away at the baby tooth root causing it to wobble and fall out, thus making way for the permanent tooth to come through.

Can baby teeth have cavities?

Unfortunately, baby teeth are also susceptible to cavities. Baby bottle tooth decay or caries is more prevalent than you may expect.

Tooth decay in children may begin as early as the first tooth erupts. This problem occurs when bacteria causing acid is introduced into your child’s mouth. Caregivers and parents may pass harmful bacteria to a baby through saliva without knowing. For instance, this can happen through the sharing of cups, spoons, or even tasting food when feeding the baby.

If your child develops white spots on teeth adjacent to the gum line, this could be a sign of decay. Such spots may also appear on the upper teeth. It is however quite difficult to tell if your child has tooth decay. And you may notice it when it is already too late.

When should I take my baby to the dentist?

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), you should take your child to the dentist six months after the first tooth appears or when they hit one year. This will help the dentist to identify any underlying dental problem that your child might have. This way, they can treat it before it worsens. More importantly, the dentist will advise you on how to take care of your little one’s teeth.

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Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at their disposal.

Joseph Xuereb
Principal Dental Surgeon & Owner of Savina Dental Clinics, Dr Joseph Xuereb BChD (Hons), MFGDP(UK), MGDS RCS(Eng), FFGDP RCS(UK), FICD is a general dental practitioner with a special interest in Implant and Restorative Dentistry. Dr Joseph & the teams' full biographical information can be found here.