Seeing that first little piece of white tooth pop through your baby’s gums is an exciting time, and usually happens right around the time your baby should first see a pediatric dentist in Prairie Village. But it often comes with a lot of discomfort and pain. While teething is a natural and important developmental milestone in a baby’s life, the process itself can be a challenging time filled with sleepless nights, endless crying, and a lot of tears. But have you ever wondered why teething hurts so much?
Why Does Teething Hurt?
There are several reasons why your baby may be so restless and upset during the teething process.
Inflammation and Pressure
As a baby’s teeth begin to push through the gums, it causes inflammation and pressure on the sensitive gum tissue. This pressure can be excruciating and is one of the primary sources of pain during teething.
Additionally, a baby’s gums are incredibly sensitive, and the process of teeth breaking through can lead to soreness and tenderness in the gums, exacerbating the pain.
The emerging tooth comes into contact with nerves in the gums, sending pain signals to the brain. These signals are interpreted as discomfort or pain, making the child irritable and fussy.
Sometimes, small fluid-filled sacs called eruption cysts can form on the gum’s surface as a tooth emerges. These cysts can cause additional discomfort and pain.
The constant irritation of the gums during teething can make them more susceptible to infections, which can further increase pain and discomfort.
No wonder they cry so much!
When Does Teething Happen?
Teething typically begins when a baby is around 6 months old and continues until they are about 3 years old when they often get their full set of primary teeth. This process involves the gradual eruptions of teeth from the gums. Each child’s teething experience is unique, but the general timeline remains relatively consistent. Keep in mind that your little one should see a pediatric dentist in Prairie Village by the time he gets his first tooth or no later than his first birthday.
How to Help With Teething Pain
Now that we understand why teething hurts so much, it’s essential to explore just how you can help alleviate the discomfort.
- Teething Toys – Teething toys made of safe, BPA-free materials can provide relief by allowing the baby to chew and gnaw on them, which helps soothe sore gums.
- Cold Compress – Applying a cold, damp washcloth to the baby’s gums can help reduce inflammation and numb the pain temporarily.
- Teething Gels – Over-the-counter teething gels or ointments can provide relief by numbing the gums. However, it’s crucial to consult a pediatrician before using any medication.
- Massage – Gently massaging the baby’s gums with a clean finger can help alleviate some discomfort. Ensure your hands are clean first!
- Distraction – Engaging the baby in play or offering them a favorite toy can divert their attention from the pain temporarily.
- Pain Relief Medications – In some cases, pediatricians or your pediatric dentist in Prairie Village may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Always consult a healthcare professional before giving any medication to your child.
Teething is undoubtedly an exciting yet challenging phase in a child’s development, marked by pain, discomfort, and sleepless nights. However, understanding why teething hurts so much can help parents and caregivers better support their little ones through this trying time. While teething is a natural process that all children go through, it’s essential to remember that it’s temporary, and eventually, those adorable little pearly whites will make their grand appearance. In the meantime, offering comfort, love, and patience can go a long way in making the journey a bit less painful for both the baby and the parents.
We have pediatric dentists throughout Johnson County and the Kansas City area including in Overland Park, Prairie Village, Olathe, and Kansas City.