We've all done it. We've blamed our kids fussiness, crappy sleep, and just all around a-hole attitude on teething. Well turns out it's probably not really the teething, after all. #becausekids.
I recently stumbled upon this incredible article that examined numerous studies about the side effects of teething, and well... Mind. Blown.
And there goes my scapegoat!
I've picked out a few of what I believe to be the best takeaways from the article, but you can read the full thing here.
Parents Can’t Handle the Tooth
Moms and dads blame teething for their infants’ sleeplessness, crying, fevers, and diarrhea.
They’re missing the real cause.
By Melinda Wenner Moyer
Teething sucks. We as parents know that teeth are going to appear, but we never know exactly when or what symptoms will precede them. Plus, babies are a roller coaster of evolving behaviors anyway, so when little Anna suddenly becomes a train wreck, we have no idea whether it’s because a tooth is coming or because she’s sick or because, well, she’s 10 months old. As confused, sleep-deprived parents, we desperately need explanations for our infants’ strange developments, and teething is a convenient crutch—but it’s one that we may rely on too often. The fact is that no symptom reliably predicts the eruption of a tooth because babies react differently. The one fact experts seem to agree on—but that many parents, including myself, are reluctant to accept—is that true teething symptoms are generally pretty mild.
There is the oft-cited claim that teething causes excruciating pain because a tooth is “stabbing” through the gum. “That’s one of those myths,” explains Clay Jones, a pediatric and newborn hospitalist at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, Massachusetts... “What happens is that the gums remodel—they move out of the way as the tooth emerges.” After all, Jones says, gums don’t bleed when kids teethe. A 2003 study documented a statistically significant increase in one inflammatory marker during infant teething, but the rest of the markers the study tested, called cytokines, didn’t change much. “A baby might be in pain or having some degree of discomfort, but I think that a significant amount of pain is not likely or plausible,” Jones says.
So why, then, does teething seem like the worst thing ever? In part, it’s an artifact of the difficult psychology of parenting. Babies rapidly change; they go through difficult periods; they get sick a lot. Yet they can never tell us what’s wrong, so we have to guess at the causes. And what’s something that happens a lot in infancy that we can blame everything on? Oh! Teething. “It’s the nature of being a human—when we’re faced with nonspecific symptoms like fussiness and drooling and changes in sleep, we want to peg it on something,”
“There’s so much force behind the concepts of teething passed down from grandmothers to moms and society in general to moms,” Jones explains. “It’s reinforced over and over again, so much so that it’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’re going to look for these symptoms and then blame them on teething.”
I know, I know—as a parent, you don’t want to hear this. You want answers and solutions. But one of the reasons we want so terribly to understand and label what happens with our kids is because, on some level, we believe that with understanding comes control. If I know what it is, I can do something about it.
Agree? Disagree? Do you have a whole new outlook on teething? Tell us what you think!
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