Teething Pain Relief

teething baby eating corn on the cob

If a child is in pain, then don’t be afraid to reach for the painkillers – ibuprofen and paracetamol (eg: nurofen and calpol sugar free syrups) can be very effective at getting a child through a night or two of discomfort, and giving weary parents a break. Ensure you follow the directions on the bottle and they are perfectly safe.

Teething rings, especially those that can be chilled in the fridge/freezer can be really useful, and it’s worth having two or three, so that one can be chilling whilst another is being cleaned and the third is being gummed furiously.

Dribbling can lead the lips and skin around the mouth to become rashed and sore – try and use a skin cream (e.g.: sudocrem) or Vaseline to prevent it drying out too much. Also watch out for secondary infections in cracked skin – if this looks like it is happening see your GP.

Some infants will opt for crunchy, crisp foods to chomp on, to help alleviate the pressure – try carrot sticks or cucumber, again these can be chilled to make the mouth more comfortable.

Other, less proven remedies include teething necklaces and teething powders. These solutions do not have any clinical evidence as to effectiveness, but are unlikely to do harm.

What can go wrong? (and how to prevent it)

The most common cause of problems with teeth is decay, and this is related directly to the amount of sugar in a child’s diet. Every time sugar enters the mouth it causes the bacteria in the mouth to produce acid, and this continues for around an hour after the sugar is eaten. Therefore if a child has a grazing habit, where sugar is consumed on a ‘little and often’ basis then the child is much more prone to decay and gum disease. Try to keep the time in between meals sugar free, and it is vital that the last hour before bed is strictly sugar free, as this sugar can hang around overnight causing a lot of damage. For this reason it is also vital that bays and toddlers do not use bottles as a form of soother overnight. A quick Google Image search for “nursing caries” should be enough to convince…

The other big worry for parents is what to do in the event of an accident. Knocks, bangs and bumps are a normal part of growing up, and sometimes these can happen to teeth. If a child receives a knock to the mouth I would strongly recommend getting to a dentist ASAP (obviously this is when the child has not got any more serious injuries – ie: has not been knocked unconscious or have any broken bones – if that’s the case it’s time for A&E!) If a tooth is chipped and you have the piece of tooth that has been knocked off then this can sometimes be refixed to the tooth – keep the tooth fragment in salty water or milk to prevent it drying out. Any dentist should see a child who has been injured ASAP. If a child’s regular dentist is not able to see the child within 24 hours I would advise trying to find someone who can – it can be the difference between keeping or losing a tooth.

Brushing the teeth is also a habit to encourage as early as possible. Use fluoride toothpaste, preferably a mint flavour, as you will just have battles later down the line when the bubblegum flavoured weird blue stuff has to be cast aside for regular adult toothpaste. Aim for a toothpaste with around 1000 parts per million (ppm) fluoride for under threes increasing to 1450ppm fluoride over three years old.

Continue to part 3 – Guide to Brushing Babies Teeth


Iain Soulsby BDS, BSc (Hons.)

About the author: Iain Soulsby studied Dentistry and Psychology at Guys Hospital Dental School, University of London. He works at Hayes Dental Surgery in Bromley, South East London (020 8462 1347) www.hayesdentalsurgery.co.uk .

Iain is father to Emily and Charlotte (6 and nearly 2 at the time of writing) He would like more time with his family, more time with his patients and more time to sleep – this isn’t going to be possible.

Photo accreditation: Nikki McLeod (flickr)

2 thoughts on “Teething Pain Relief

  1. Great read! I found that waterproof teething mittens really kept my lo happy in those days before he could hold a teether himself

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