When a baby starts to teethe, there’s lots to contend with: tears, drool, possibly even fever and diarrhea. But if you thought the major increase in bodily fluids was the grossest part of tooth eruption, you’ve lived in blissful ignorance.
Allow us to destroy that for you. A video by Dr. Prodigious, who runs a YouTube channel dedicated to learning about all kinds of things, is pure nightmare fuel for people who were perfectly happy not knowing how squicky and weird it is when a baby’s first teeth cut through their little gums. Just so you know, you can’t unwatch this video:
Video: Dr. Prodigious/YouTube
The truth is, if you do a quick Google search for “baby teeth skull,” you will be subjected to a horror show of what appears to be a monster’s face with little nubs and huge incisors stacked on top of one another, just waiting to pop through the gums and make breastfeeding a nightmare. Babies are adorable, and that’s just a scientific fact, but it’s impossible to ignore that nature must make them that way to ensure we all cope with another fact: Growing babies is also a healthy amount of gross and a smidgen creepy too.
That’s not an indictment; it’s just something we all must accept as we navigate a world of diaper blowouts, sucking snot out of nostrils and, yes, waiting for the joyous and momentous occasion of your little one’s chompers bursting through their raw, swollen gums.
Watching that video, it’s no wonder babies scream and drool through the entirety of their teething stage. Teething is uncomfortable and possibly even painful. That’s because, as that video aptly illustrates, little sharp, hardened pieces of enamel are cutting their way through tender gum tissue. Of course, teething isn’t actually the culprit of every baby’s ills from the age of 6 months until the full set of rippers makes an appearance: Doctors say that things like fever and diarrhea are not the common symptoms of teething that some of us think they are.
But really, why add fever to the mix when swollen, achy gums are symptom enough? It’s a really good thing no one can remember their teething stage, because it seems like the kind of thing that could scar a person for life.
With a little more insight into what’s going on in your baby’s mouth while they scream their way through the last six months of their first year, you can help get them comfortable while their “milk teeth” insinuate themselves into your child’s mouth. According to experts, it’s better to use topical analgesics and anti-inflammatory meds as a last resort and to stick to the basics to soothe teething symptoms.
You can apply pressure with your finger or a gauze pad, or hand over a teething toy and let your little one gnaw to their heart’s content. If they’re on to solids, try giving them slightly harder foods that they have to really gum away at to eat.
Additionally, you can cool the area with a cool washcloth, spoon or teething toy, but never a frozen one (that hurts!), and finally, make sure to wipe all the drool and wetness away. That can help keep the skin around baby’s mouth irritation free.
And never forget, just when you think teething is over, tooth loss, orthodontia and impacted wisdom teeth will pop up just over the horizon, ensuring you always have a reason to go fishing around in your kid’s mouth.