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Br Dent J. 2002 Mar 9;192(5):251-5.

Teething troubles?

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Department of Orthodontics, Glasgow Dental Hospital and School.


The relationship between the eruption of the deciduous teeth and the general health of infants has been documented for over 5,000 years. A variety of physical disturbances (anything from minor upsets to potentially fatal illnesses) have historically been attributed to teething, however a number of recent publications have alluded to a clarification of some of the disputed features of teething. It is now accepted that the localised symptoms of teething vary between individuals, however, 'teething' continues to be an inappropriate diagnosis proffered by both healthcare professionals and lay people. Severe systemic upsets are unrelated to teething and, if present, the infant should be promptly referred to a physician for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. The treatment modalities used in teething have been diverse throughout the ages, frequently depending on the tenets of the medical profession and lay people, but now principally involve pain relief. This article examines the signs and symptoms frequently attributed to teething and their possible alternative causes. The contemporary principles of the management of teething are discussed, including supportive measures, the diverse range of available topical and systemic pharmacological preparations and the 'alternative' holistic therapies.

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