By Suzanne Stevenson, APRN, MSN, NP-C
CCS Pediatrics, Lewiston
Teething is one of the many celebrated “firsts” of a child’s first year of life. Parents often wonder if their baby’s low grade fever, diarrhea, or sleepless nights are a result of erupting teeth. There are many myths surrounding teething symptoms and treatments. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recently published two studies showing that the only symptoms associated with teething are biting and mouthing, drooling, gum rubbing and irritability. Parents and caregivers often attribute fever, diarrhea, red cheeks and rashes to teething, however, they are often times associated with illness and may warrant evaluation by your child’s pediatric provider.
There are many remedies both safe and unsafe for treating the discomfort associated with teething. Amber teething necklaces are becoming increasingly popular as parents look for alternative ways to relieve baby’s sore gums. These necklaces, however, pose a significant risk to infants. They can easily break if they are able to get into baby’s mouth, and just one small bead can pose a choking hazard. Teething necklaces can also cause strangulation. Most teething necklace distributors have a disclaimer that necklaces should only be used under adult supervision, though many parents keep them on infants 24 hours a day. Though these necklaces are thought to emit oils that relieve pain there are no studies supporting this claim. Topical “gum numbing” medication can be harmful as well and has not been shown to be beneficial in alleviating pain from teething.
Teething toys are generally safe as long as they are large enough to not fit inside a toilet paper or paper towel roll. Anything smaller should not be given to a child under the age of three. Teething rings are a great way to sooth sore gums. They should be chilled in the refrigerator, not the freezer, and should never be boiled or placed in the dishwasher. Mesh fruit traps can hold frozen vegetables or fruit which baby can chew on. Other safe ways to help ease your infant’s pain are freezing wash clothes and letting baby chew on it. Finally, acetaminophen and ibuprofen (for infants over 6 months of age) can be helpful in relieving teething discomfort, but should only be used when necessary. You should talk to your pediatrician about appropriate dosing. Teething can be a trying time for both parents and babies. Always ask your pediatric provider for advice when you are unsure of symptoms or treatment options.
Suzanne Stevenson, APRN, MSN, NP-C
Suzanne Stevenson is a Certified Nurse Practitioner at CCS Pediatrics in Lewiston. Suzanne has a wide range of clinical experience in pediatric care. She has worked in emergency departments, newborn nurseries, transitional NICU, and a primary care office setting. She earned her Master of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner specialty at Yale University in New Haven Connecticut and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut.
Suzanne is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.