Your baby's first tooth is a milestone in his or her development. However, teething is a slow and painful process for your baby and for you, too. And while you may be prepared for your baby's discomfort and crying while he or she is cutting teeth, these aren't the only things you can expect to occur. Here are three common things that may happen as your baby's teeth erupt.
There May Be Blood and Bruising
When your baby is expecting a tooth to erupt, his or her gums often become swollen. This is a normal part of the teething process and usually subsides once the tooth has made its way out of the gum line. What you might not expect to see, however, is blood. But this, too, is a normal part of the process.
Inside your baby's gum are blood vessels, upon which a new tooth can create a lot of pressure. As the new tooth presses down on these tiny blood vessels, it causes them to rupture. While this might sound bad, it really isn't. However, the blood vessels do begin to leak once they've been ruptured.
The blood leaking out of the damaged vessels causes a bruise to appear on your baby's gums. Once the tooth has fully erupted, a small amount of bleeding may also occur. Newly ruptured blood vessels, as well as the new tooth cutting through the last bit of tender gum tissue, can cause this. The bleeding should only be slight and should stop relatively quickly. If it doesn't, you should have your baby's teeth and gums examined by your pediatric dentist right away.
A Slight Fever
The eruption of a new tooth can sometimes be accompanied by a slight fever. The keyword here is slight, as in a fever that does not exceed 100 degrees. These types of teething fevers are believed to cause a rise in your baby's body temperature as a result of gum swelling.
If your baby develops a low-grade fever, treat it as necessary with infant medications. However, if your baby's fever reaches 101 degrees or higher, you should be concerned. This type of fever is not associated with teething and can be a sign of a separate illness or infection.
Pulling on the Ears
The nerves in your baby's face and jaw are connected. Because of this, it's quite common for a teething baby to begin pulling on his or her ears when teething begins. The pain your baby feels in his or her gums is transferred, through the nerves, to the ear canals.
Pulling on his or her ears is your baby's attempt to make the pain go away. Unfortunately, frequent ear pulling can also be indicative of an ear infection, so it's important to monitor your baby closely. If no other signs of teething are present, or your baby develops a high fever, it's a good idea to schedule a visit with your pediatrician.
Even though you now know what to expect, it's important to remember that anything you think may be unusual should be reported to your pediatric dentist. Happy teething!