Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Teething

So it’s been a while since the last post. The last one had to do with my locking my child down to get some piece of mind. Let’s just chalk up the year long hiatus to- the kid got smarter than that, and I’ve been running around like a crazy person ever since.

In my clinic, I see a large percentage of children under the age of 2. And on a day to day basis, I see parents chalking their child’s symptoms up to none other than- teething. Now prior to being a parent, I may have been confused as to why at 2 months old, a parent is saying that their baby probably was up every hour last night because, “she’s started teething.” But as a parent of a 19 month old, I can tell you I relate.

Since Charley was about 4 months old- I have attributed every drop of drool, low grade fever, rash, wake up in the middle of the night, and every unnecessary tirade to, “she must be teething.” I have used it as an excuse for my child’s misbehavior at parties, in the grocery store, and at church. And why not? It works like a charm!

Every parent completely relates to you and is instantly understanding. (Side note: if you feel you’ve overused the “teething” excuse too much, just try the “she hasn’t napped today” one. Also works beautifully).

Now on average, a child will break their first tooth around 6 months, and continue one every month after that. Some children get their first tooth much earlier, and some may be going into their first birthday cake gumming it like an 80 year old without their dentures. I was trained to use the following equasion:
Childs age in months – 6 = # of teeth

Symptoms of teething
These are the typical symptoms your doctor will attribute to teething:
-swelling of gums
-drooling
-rash on chin or face
-low grade fever
-irritability
-ear pulling
-biting
-pain

This is my personal list of symptoms I blame on teething:
-only eating cookies for dinner
-kicking you in the face to get Mickey Mouse
-biting their cousin because they want their toy
-gargling water and spitting it in your face
-pooping 8 times in one day
-waking up at 4am and wanting to play
-wrestling like an alligator during diaper changing
-and running around the grocery store throwing canned goods on the floor
-zoning out like an overworked, drooling zombie

Symptoms supposedly show up only 3-5 days before a tooth erupts, but I have been known to blame my child’s behavior on teething for 3-5 weeks prior.

Order of Appearance
As for order, that can vary greatly, but I’ve attached a lovely diagram for you:



Symptom Management
Now I am not some cruel, pain inflicting mother, but I do appreciate the numerous studies that correlate frequent usage of Tylenol and Motrin to increased likelihood of asthma symptoms. I try to weigh the pros and cons of using pain medications, and only use as a last resort.

Most people already know the medicinal options for pain relief. So here are a few non-medicinal ones I’ve tried:

1.       Chewing on something cold- works great if your child wants to. Cold wash cloths and teething rings seem like they would work great. But Charley refuses to use them. She would much rather gnaw on a sharp edge of a toy or my arm. I have found she likes warm wash cloths better. You won’t get the numbing affect, but it does keep her happy temporarily.

2.       Emu oil- We used this instead of your topical medication like orajel. This worked REALLY well. Within 10 minutes, she seemed back to normal. It is the anti-inflammatory effect on the gums that is supposed to offer pain relief.

3.       Hyland’s Teething Tablets- There are probably many brands available, but this is our choice. Hyland’s is a homeopathic company that uses natural sources of pain relief in their tablets. The tablets are easily absorbable, and are our first line of defense whenever we think she’s teething.

4.       Teething necklace- So the jury is out on this one. I will note that there is not a SINGLE case of a child choking on their own teething necklace. I also can’t find any empirical evidence that they do what they claim. The claim:
”teething necklaces are made of Baltic amber, which are naturally analgesic. The amber gets absorbed through the skin and alleviate pain for the child.”
People who use them swear by them. I will admit I swore by ours for the first few months Charley wore it. She was a tyrant for days, we put it on- and within 2 hours she was back to her normal self. Since then, I have not really put too much thought into whether or not since she looks so damn cute in her necklace!


I shouldn’t make Charley out to be a naughty baby. In fact, it is her general calm and happy demeanor that makes the transformation during teething so apparent. But I am glad I have something as concrete and non-threatening as teething to blame right now. As a parent, I don’t mind if my child is misbehaving or not sleeping through the night… as long as I know it’s temporary and well explained. I’m just sad my excuse will be short lived. When she’s 13, I’m going to have to come up with a different excuse for friends and family why she ran to her room screaming, “I hate you.” Probably can’t still blame teething. 



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