Teething Remedies: What Works?

Teething is an important developmental milestone for your baby, but when those little pearly whites make their way through the gums, it can create some discomfort. Stacy Harr, MD, a pediatrician with ProMedica Physicians, says the average age when babies start to teethe is nine months, but can start anywhere between six months and up.

According to Dr. Harr, the first teeth to arrive are the two front bottom ones.

“Sometimes the area of the gums might be swollen, red, or you can see where the tooth is,” she says. “They want to bite on everything, they can be more fussy, and pulling or touching their mouth more. They can also get a low fever, under 102 degrees. Once the tooth comes through, usually symptoms improve.”

Remedies to Try

To soothe symptoms during this process, Dr. Harr recommends a number of remedies.

“If your baby likes to chew, try teething rings or a wet/cold washcloth,” says Harr. “It’s best not to put teething rings in the freezer, but you can put it in the fridge to cool off. Room temperature is fine, too.”

If it is developmentally appropriate, Dr. Harr says chewing foods like biscuits, bagels or even frozen banana inside mesh pouches can help relieve the pain. If these remedies don’t work, baby Advil or Tylenol may be used at the appropriate dosage (talk with your pediatrician first).

Remedies to Avoid

There are some products that claim to ease the pain of teething but may actually do more harm than good.

“One big thing is amber necklaces, similar to pearl necklaces,” says Dr. Harr. “The theory is that the amber chemical absorbs into the skin causing pain relief, but this is not proven to be true. Most importantly, it’s also a choking hazard. Same with dime necklaces.” (Read more about the American Academy of Pediatric’s stance on amber teething necklaces.)

Dr. Harr also doesn’t recommend Orajel or Lidocaine. “Orajel can cause blood cells to not absorb oxygen and babies can turn blue,” she warns.

Another popular remedy that should be avoided is teething tablets. Dr. Harr explains, “They are marketed as an all-natural remedy but contain a lot of different chemicals, including an herb called belladonna, which affects the nervous system.”

Lastly, Dr. Harr says to steer clear of foods or items that are not developmentally appropriate or could be a choking hazard. And, if you have questions or concerns about teething, to talk with your child’s pediatrician.

What helped your child through teething? Share your experience in the comments below.