The milk teeth and their development
Development of the milk teeth starts long before we see them in our baby’s smile. As early as six to eight weeks into pregnancy the baby’s teeth begin to grow, and in two months the mineralisation process sets in. This is how the crowns of the incisors are “ready” at birth – they are just waiting for the right time to push themselves out of the jaw and into the mouth. Even the canines and molars are already in place, although these still need more time to fully develop. A few weeks after baby makes his or her first appearance the roots of the milk teeth will have grown enough to start pushing upward towards the gums, until they eventually break through between the sixth and eighth month. The first ones are the middle lower incisors, followed shortly by the two upper incisors. The remaining milk teeth will follow in approximately the next 20 months, until the set is complete – by the child’s third birthday at the latest – with eight incisors, four canines and eight molars.
Cutting the milk teeth is not only a major step in the development of your child; it also essentially forms the basis of preparation for and reserving room for the permanent teeth. And this is one of the best reasons why you should take good care of the milk teeth and ensure that they remain healthy.
The first teeth are cut – tips for preventing tears
The most important first: not every baby has trouble with teething, and your little one does not have to suffer either. You should consider above all that cutting the first teeth is a completely normal stage of development that every child goes through – so there is no cause for concern.
Yet despite this, babies may react to this great change with a wide variety of symptoms: they may not be able to sleep, may have little appetite or be generally restless – sometimes they may even run a temperature, suffer from diarrhea or develop a skin rash. Babies that are teething will put everything in their mouths that they can reach in order to relieve the pain caused by the pressure. Bacteria and dirt may also be ingested and reach the digestive tract. The chewing motion will then stimulate the production of saliva even more – the child will start to “dribble” and this can cause irritation of the sensitive skin around the mouth. An important thing to keep in mind is babies PH can change in their saliva which can lead to nipple sensitivity during breastfeeding. This will pass quickly once the teeth are through. There are ways however to ease the inflammation and discomfort naturally, before you reach for the Nurofen or Panadol.
The need to chew increases with teething infants and there is much to be said for supporting this – it accelerates the teething process. The most suitable aids for this are teething rings made of silicone, which offer a resistance, but one that is not too hard. The important thing here is that both the material of the teething ring itself and its contents have to be absolutely harmless, so look for products that meet European safety standards.
NUK Cooling Teething Rings can be stored in the refrigerator. This will relieve the pain even more, thanks to the soothing, cool temperature. They separate into two pieces, which is great for very little babies who don’t quite have the dexterity to realise which hand they have their teething ring in and also stimulate learning in older children.
Some babies may now even like to chew on a piece of apple or a hard crust of bread. These are to be recommended, as long as you supervise your child to ensure that he or she cannot choke on this still unfamiliar food. An ideal item to use here is a NUK Interchangeable Teether Feeder. The mesh bag can be opened to pop in a cooled apple, mango or other chilled fruit and small pieces cannot break away. They can suck away safely, cooling their gums and applying pressure to the painful tooth nubs. Alternatively you could use a small square of muslin with a knot tied around the fruit for the child to hold and suck on.