When those tiny teeth start poking through your baby's perfectly pink gums, discomfort and fussiness usually follows. And, sadly, it seems like that discomfort and fussiness doesn't end until your baby has a mouth full of pearly whites. Just like parenting in general, everyone seems to have an opinion on how to ease the pain of teething, which is why it's important you can differentiate myths about teething from the actual truth. There can be a lot of confusion about what's actually going on in your baby's mouth, and how to deal, so it' vital to follow expert advise before you tend to your baby's new teeth.
Dr. Emily Bruckner of Tribeca Pediatrics tells Care.com that teething may not be the only wheel in motion that's causing any mood changes your baby might be experiencing. The behavior changes, and symptoms that have been known to accompany new teeth, could actually be the result of a cold, an undiagnosed illness, and even over-sensitive parents. Dr. Bruckner goes on to add that, although the term is widely used to describe teething, babies don't actually "cut" teeth. It's a slow process of each tooth gradually rubbing through the gum's membrane.
The aforementioned are just a few of the common misconceptions about teething that seem to be passed down from generation to generation. Knowing the difference between fact and fiction will help you understand what your baby's going through, so you can take care of them to the best of your ability. So with that in mind, here are just a few teething myths you can ignore:
Myth: Teething Causes Cold Symptoms
Jade Miller, D.D.S. and president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), tells Parents that a true fever doesn't come from teething. (For reference, a "fever" is a temperature of 100.4°F or higher.) A study published in Pediatrics attributes a slight rise in temperature in some babies, but the data doesn't conclude it's the case for all teething babies.
Actually, any cold or flu-like symptoms could even just be a coincidence. The irritability likely comes from the core source of an undiagnosed illness, and not the teething itself. If your baby breaks into a fever or experiences major cold or flu symptoms, always talk to your pediatrician.
Myth: Teething Causes Sleep Disturbances
Dr. Bruckner told Care.com that hyper-aware parents are the real reason why teething babies lose sleep. Since these parents know their babies are uncomfortable, they respond to their babies quicker and, as a result, the baby's sleep is interrupted more frequently.
Of course, no two babies are alike, and some babies are more sensitive to the pain of teething. That pain can impact their usual routine, too, causing sleep disturbances. But it's not a hard-and-fast rule all babies follow, and it's a myth that a teething baby will automatically lose sleep at night.
If your baby is losing sleep in response to teeth pain, The Baby Sleep Site recommends giving your baby a pediatrician-approved pain reliever before bedtime, and remain consistent with any sleep training progress you've made. If you breastfeed, expect to feed more often, as it feels "good on the gums."
Myth: Excessive Drooling Only Happens With Teething
Babies drool pretty much all the time, so it's not specific to teething. According to Parenting, drool usually begins long before teething ever does (months before, actually), and there's no additional evidence to suggest there's more saliva in your baby's mouth once teething begins.
Dr. Ari Brown, M.D. and co-author of Baby 411, tells Parenting that "babies drool because their bodies are making more enzymes to digest solid foods." So really, your baby's been drooling for some time. It's just that you're very aware of what's going on in their mouth when they're "cutting" teeth, so it's more noticeable.
Myth: Teething Causes Appetite Loss
Loss of appetite can be attributed to a number of things. Willows Pediatrics in Westport, Connecticut, assures parents that baby's appetites can fluctuate day-to-day (as do their bowel movements) and shouldn't be a cause for concern unless your baby' eating less, has diarrhea, or is experiencing a high fever. If your baby is showing signs of the aforementioned symptoms, you should take them to their pediatrician immediately for evaluation.
Myth: Teething Causes Diarrhea
A study in the Western Journal of Medicine cites that teething and diarrhea, however previously linked, aren't related. Likewise, the Journal of Pediatric and Child Health published a study that says 55 percent of parents think teething causes diarrhea and other serious symptoms. By linking the two, doctors may miss the root cause of the diarrhea.
Myth: Babies Are In A Lot Of Pain
Between ages 1-3, your baby will produce around 20 teeth. And again, every baby is different and has different tolerance levels. Some will be fussy at the first signs of a new tooth, while others won't seem to be bothered by new teeth at all. It all depends on your baby. So don't assume just because he or she is fussy they're teething, or that because he or she is teething they'll automatically be fussy.
In the case of fussiness, The Mayo Clinic advises rubbing the gums with a cold cloth may provide relief.
Myth: Teething Begins Around 3-4 Months Of Age
It's not likely your baby will get their first tooth when they're 3-months-old, but it happens. Generally, though, your baby will be around 6-months-old when they get their first tooth. Genetics play a significant role in determining teething age, too. Jeffrey Bourne, MD, a pediatrician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells The Bump that genetics are also a big influencer in when teething begins (and how many teeth your baby receives in one "teething session").
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