Teething usually commences in an infants, from the sixth month. The temporary or milk teeth appear first. Before the baby is born, the teeth buds, placed under the gum, are soft and under developed. After the babyís birth, the teeth begin to grow up by absorbing the covering material and gum, thus converting them into bone. The teeth make their appearance with the removal of the covering capsule.
The milk teeth generally appear in pairs and the process of cutting all the 20 temporary teeth is completed by the middle of the third year. These milk teeth continue to function upto the sixth or seventh year. Then the permanent teeth begin to push them out gradually. They fall off one by one and the vacant spaces are taken up by growing permanent teeth.
The period of teething is one with many changes in many directions. During this period the child becomes irritable and very susceptible to digestive or nervous disturbances. Many diseases may coincide with the time of teething, but it would be wrong to presume that the various ailments suffered by the child at this period are due to teething.
Signs of Teething
There are certain signs which would indicate the approaching eruption of teeth. The baby may suffer some pain and discomfort. There may be a little inflammation of his gum or it may even bleed as a tooth pushes its way through. He may feel miserable and need extra comfort. He may frequently put his fingers or other hard objects in the mouth, or bite hard upon the nipples of the breast while being fed. He may dribble a lot making his cheeks and chin chapped and red. Other signs include tenderness, swelling or reddening of tonsils and eyes. If all these signs are present, the child is beyond doubt affected by its growing teeth.
The pain will be trivial if the teeth are emitted one by one in sequence. If, however, several teeth pierce the gums at the same time, the teething will be accompanied by fever, anxiety, twitching in the muscles of the face and whole body.
Causes of Teething Disorders
Teething will be both early and easy, if the child is born of healthy parents after a full period of pregnancy, his mother has followed a proper nutritious diet and fed her child with wholesome breast milk. A healthy child thus cuts teeth without disorders. In case of a weak child, however, his constitutional defects are accentuated. If his nervous system is weak and unstable, the child may have sleeplessness and even convulsions. Those who have a habitually weak digestive system develop diarrhoea and those who have a weak respiratory system will develop bronchitis. Deficiency in proper feeding, vitamin and calcium deficiency, unhygenic bringing up conditions are mostly responsible for these suspcetibilities and the deficiencies and errors should be found out and corrected.
A tooth before it can shoot out must first pierce the gums. In case the teeth are not hard enough, they cannot work their way through. Similarly, if the gums are too thick, more time will be required for piercing them. This causes irritation and pain, both of which cause a heat in the mouth, a greater flow of body humours (fluids) to the affected part, swellings, inflammations and restlessness. The teething will therefore become an easy process if the gums are made thin and insensible and hard. This can be achieved by gently rubbing of the gum and by giving the child the wholesome motherís milk. The child should also be given something hard such as sugarcane, sugar- free rusks, carrot, rubber ball and plastic blocks to chew.
It is also necessrary to relax the gums and to reduce the painful sensation caused by the pressure of the tooth. The gums may be softened and relaxed frequently by massaging the tumid and pained part with warm honey, or some oil of olives or almonds or butter. The inflammed part may be pressed with roasted fig, or a fine spunge dipped in a warm decoction of carrots, or in milk boiled with figs.
At the time of teething, food should be curtailed by one fourth of the normal quantity. No changes in food should be made at this time as digestive organs become irritated. A gentle diarrhoea is beneficial on these occassions. However, a violent condition will be harmful and should be avoided and treated naturally, if it occurs.