Drooling and teething
By Dr Diji Vaughan
December 24, 2012
Category: Newborn
Tags: teething problems   drooling  

 

Dr.Vaughan my baby girl just started drooling and chews on her hands a lot I think she is a little young to be teething what age do most children start teething and what do I do if she is teething?

The salivary glands are active at birth and interestingly large amounts of saliva are produced and swallowed daily.  Saliva has weak antibacterial properties and plays a key role in maintain oral hygiene. Salivation normally increases to full capacity around the 3rd to 4th month of life. This is usually about the same time parents notice drooling and health professionals this happens because of the infant's limited ability to co ordinate swallowing effectively by holding the neck upright consistently and the conspicuous absence of the lower row of front teeth to serve as a dam and staunch the downward flow of drool. Increased salivation as described above should not be associated with any signs of illness such as fever or respiratory symptoms; otherwise there will be a need for urgent medical evaluation.

Salivation may also increase temporarily with the eruption of new teeth, typically around age 6 months. Though gum irritation may begin earlier than appearance of the first cusp along with increased salivation.  We think the gum irritation is why the babies reach for anything to help soothe the irritation. Their hands, usually when balled up into tiny fists are a favorite. This frequent introduction of otherwise “not-too-clean” hands into the mouth makes diarrheal illnesses and sometimes a fever especially common during this period since the newborn inevitably overwhelms the local immune system body defense mechanisms from the increased load of germs from the environment. This natural process fosters the age old perception that teething comes with fever and diarrhea etc – which as shown above is a consequence of increased oral germ burden and teething could ideally occur completely without any symptoms! In our practice, we recommend the use of teething rings as these have been shown to help. We do not encourage the use of topical anesthetic gels on the gum, since problems with excessive dosing which occurs when the infant ingests and swallows active medications intended for topical application only can lead to other complications. Besides, teething is natural and not a disease state!

Here’s a rule of thumb for the anticipated order of tooth eruption: 1st tooth 6-10 month.
Number of newborn teeth = age (month) – 6 (until 30 month). Check the American Dental Association on http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/babies-and-kids/

The teeth are counted with the expectation that the infant will have, on the average, one tooth for each month of age past 6 months up to 28 to 36 months of age, when the full complement of 20 primary teeth will have erupted.  Follow up with your Dental health provider as recommended by your pediatrician, for surveillance to ensure proper teeth eruption and spacing in the early years is key to a life of excellent dental health.

 

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