Do Babies Need Teethers?

Reviewed on 2/10/2021
A baby is born with buds in the gums from which teeth erupt.
A baby is born with buds in the gums from which teeth erupt.

Not all babies need teethers although they help ease the pain of the tooth eruption.

Baby teethers help soothe babies' swollen gums when they start teething. Chewing on a teether can provide some comfort to the baby, but there are many other reasons that babies like to put teether toys in their mouth to chew on. Babies generally try to put anything they can get their hands on (some can be dangerous) into their mouth at an early age. This encourages the baby to move their tongue inside their mouth. It helps them become aware of their mouth and strengthen facial muscles, as well as aid in speech production.

Teether buying tips:

Teethers made from rubber, silicone, plastic, or wood are available in the market. They come in different shapes, colors, sizes, and textures. They are typically made easy for the baby to hold on to. It is advised to buy toys that are specifically meant for teething. Teethers that are liquid-filled or have plastic objects that could break, cause injury, or choking should be avoided. The teethers should be phthalate and BPA (bisphenol A) free because these chemicals can be harmful to the baby. Several teethers are labeled as nontoxic but still contain BPA. Hence, parents should be careful when buying teethers. The teethers should also contain nontoxic pigments.

Cleaning teethers:

Teethers should be cleaned regularly and should not be shared between babies. The teether can be washed with soap and water or washed in the dishwasher every day. Teethers can be sanitized using wipes during the day.

How do you know a baby is teething?

Teething can cause the baby significant discomfort. Signs and symptoms of teething include:

  • Fussiness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drooling more than usual
  • Redness of the gums
  • Pain and soreness in the gums

When to see a doctor?

It is advised to seek medical attention if the baby has the following signs and symptoms:

How to soothe a teething baby?

The following can help reduce discomfort when the baby is teething:

  • Gently rubbing their gums with a clean finger, a small cool spoon, or a moist gauze pad can be soothing since the baby can have significant tenderness of the gums.
  • The baby may be given painkillers, if required, after consulting with a doctor.
  • Numbing gels and creams may be used in children older than 2 years after consulting with a doctor. It is not advised to use over the counter oral numbing products in children.
  • Frozen carrot sticks can be given to babies older than 2 years old to chew on. Remember these can cause choking hazards in younger kids.

It is advised to follow up with the pediatrician periodically to ensure oral health and overall health. It is also recommended that the child is examined by a dentist, preferably a pediatric dentist, before they turn a year old for teeth cleaning.

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References
American Dental Association. Eruption Charts. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/e/eruption-charts

Children's Wisconsin. Anatomy and Development of the Mouth and Teeth. https://childrenswi.org/medical-care/dental-care/dental-and-oral-health/anatomy-and-development-of-the-mouth-and-teeth

DiMaggio D, Cernigliaro J. Baby’s First Tooth: 7 Facts Parents Should Know. American Academy of Pediatrics.

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