Teething in toddlers
Many people think that ‘teething’ children:
- cry a lot or seem extra cranky
- don’t feed as well as usual
- suck on objects like toys, dummies and bibs
- have more dirty nappies
- pull the ear on the same side as the tooth coming through.
These signs might be caused by teething – or they might just be part of development or a result of minor infections and illnesses.
Occasionally, teething toddlers might get eruption cysts. These are small, fluid-filled bubbles that appear on the gums where the tooth is about to come through. They’re harmless and usually not painful. They usually go away on their own, so they don’t need treatment. But it’s always a good idea to see your dentist if you’re concerned.
Teething: things to try
If you’re concerned about your child’s teething, you can try:
- giving your child something to bite on, like a toothbrush, dummy or cold but not frozen teething ring
- offering your child mushier foods, which need less chewing
- giving your child something firm, like a sugar-free rusk, to suck on.
Teething gels aren’t usually recommended because they probably don’t help to ease pain. They can also have harmful side effects.
If your child isn’t well, it’s always best to take them to the GP or your child and family health nurse – especially if your child has a fever or diarrhoea or you’re worried about any other symptoms. Teething might not be the problem.
Dummies, thumb-sucking, teeth-grinding and teeth injuries
Many toddlers still love their dummies. But it might be a good idea to encourage your child to let go of the dummy at this stage.
Sucking thumbs or fingers is a natural reflex in babies and young children. Most children grow out of thumb-sucking and finger-sucking around 2-4 years of age.
It’s pretty common for toddlers to grind their teeth, and this issue doesn’t usually need treatment. Some children clench their jaws quite firmly, and others grind their teeth so hard that it makes a noise. Some children grind their teeth during sleep. Often, they don’t wake up when they do it – but other people do!
Most of the time, teeth-grinding doesn’t last and doesn’t damage your child’s teeth. But it could lead to your child having headaches and tooth or jaw pain or wearing down their teeth. If it keeps going or you’re concerned, you might want to talk to your dentist.
Injuries to your toddler’s face and teeth can happen once they start walking, running and climbing. It’s important to see a dentist or GP if your child damages their teeth or face, especially if teeth are broken or moved out of their usual position.