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News / August 27, 2015

Teething pain may be figment of imagination

by Guy Hiscott

Teething pain may just be a figment of parents’ imagination, claims a paediatric dentist.

Speaking to the Irish Times, Kirsten Fitzgerald, consultant paediatric dental surgeon at Our Lady’s Children Hospital Crumlin, said parents focus too much on ‘imagined symptoms’ of teething when they could be missing more serious problems.

‘Teething is a simple, gentle and benign process, but it has come to mean so much more,’ she commented. ‘It’s a normal process, just like growing hair or nails.’

Dr Fitzgerald believes that increased exposure to outside infection is the reason why babies fall sick when their first teeth are appearing.

She points to the fact that the protective antibodies babies get from their mother wear off at about six months and begin picking up bugs.

Studies have yet to pick up on any significant effects of teething apart from slight swelling and a temperature increase of 0.2 degrees, according to the newspaper.

‘Babies get 20 viral infections in the first two years. They’re lying on the ground, or licking the wheels of the buggy. But, unlike the new teeth, we can’t see the viral infections,’ Dr Fitzgerald said.

She suggests that rubbing babies’ gums or wiping their faces with a damp facecloth could help parents who are worried about the effects of teething – for ‘psychological reasons’ – and believes children should start brushing their own teeth when they are two or until ‘they can tie their shoelaces’.