All babies get teeth and most parents feel that teething results in some significant discomfort for their infants. In my opinion, teething isn’t as uncomfortable as parents think and isn’t a frequent cause of fussiness or sleep disruption. Most children get teeth without much upset or fanfare but many parents ascribe fussy behavior to teething when no teeth erupt in the day or two following the time of discomfort. I think part of the reason parents are quick to blame teething for all sorts of fussy times is that almost all babies drool and chew on everything from the time they are 2 months old (long before they’d get teeth) until between 12 and 24 months of age. When other causes of fussiness can’t be found, teething gets the blame.
In reality, teething isn’t painful for most children and if you think about it, older children who get molars around ages 6 and 12 do so with no apparent discomfort whatsoever but because infants can be fussy parents want to find something to actively manage to diminish the fussiness.
Many parents use oral teething gels to relieve this fussiness and now that option should be off the table. The FDA last week issued warnings that some infants who used these developed a serious blood condition called methemoglobinemia which causes the blood to not take up oxygen well. The condition is temporary but serious and since teething isn’t serious at all taking a risk like this is unneccesary. The FDA suggested that oral gels not be used in children under 2 years of age unless supervised by their healthcare provider.
Babies get fussy all the time but if parents think that teething is the culprit, offering toys to chew on or a cold wash cloth makes a lot more sense.