Expert Advice

Teething pain: fact or fiction?

Hands up who didn't get much sleep last night?! Ah, if I had more energy you'd see my hand waving around in the air.

By Sophie Knox
Hands up who didn't get much sleep last night ah, if I had more energy you'd see my hand waving around in the air.
Both Lexie (2) and Emma (7 months) were really unsettled. It's unlike Lexie, who despite being a poor sleeper in her first year has graduated to super sleeper status. Emma is still finding her groove when it comes to snooze patterns (see my sleep school blog from a few months back).
Anyway, Lexie had a slightly high temperature, had been chewing her hands all day and when I asked "what's hurting?" she said "mowf". On top of all that it's about time her second molars put in an appearance, so it's no surprise I concluded she was teething.
When Emma woke up after her unsettled night, I ran my finger along her lower gums and there it was her first baby tooth (hurrah!). The double whammy. Don't you love finding an explanation for your kids' previously unexplained behaviour?
This morning I dropped into the chemist to pick up some pain relief and it was my lucky day (or so I thought…) to find the local health nurse paying her weekly visit. When I told her both girls were teething she gave me a "humph" and basically told me I was imagining the whole scenario.
She said there's no scientific proof that teething is painful and it's probably a coincidence that both girls are due to get teeth right now and happened to have a restless night.
If looks could speak, mine would have said "reeeeally?". The nurse told me to read the teething section inBaby Loveby Robin Barker, who also believes that blaming sickness or out-of-character behaviour on teething is a cop out.
I've been told by friends to avoid this part of this otherwise fantastically helpful book. Anecdotal evidence of teething pain is so strong that I'm afraid Robin Barker and her followers might just have it wrong.
Sure, there have been a few instances where Lexie's teeth have arrived with no great fanfare, but on many occasions hindsight has allowed me to explain away many a sleepless night, whiney afternoon or refusal to eat while her "mowf" has been sore.
What's your take on teething? Do your kids display signs of pain or discomfort? Go off their food? I've heard of children having runny poos as well. And do you find paracetamol the best way to treat the pain?
And here's a question for a few years down the track: do older kids experience teething pain when their baby teeth fall out and their adult teeth arrive?

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