Teething ‘is a myth’

2014-09-01 00:00

PARENTS at Durban’s Baby Expo were stunned by an expert’s claim that teething problems for babies “don’t exist”.

Yesterday, paediatric dentist Dr Angela Gilhespie — author of The ABC of Children’s Teeth — insisted that the eruption of milk teeth was not a cause of fever, diarhoea or even discomfort for infants.

Instead, Gilhespie left crowds of parents dumbstruck at the MamaMagic event by revealing that the crying and fevers that tend to strike infants between four and eight months old were typically viral in nature, and merely coincided with the appearance of first teeth.

As a result, she said most of the teething products sold to parents were “not only unneeded, but can mask or delay treatment for the real cause”.

New parent Warren Murray said: “This is quite stunning. It will change our whole approach. We’ll definitely be seeing our pediatrician when these symptoms come up.”

Gilhespie said it was commonly the practice of kissing babies on the mouth — rather than anything to do with their gums — which was behind the intense pain widely associated with “teething”.

“That time coincides with the precipitous drop in the baby’s circulating antibodies passed from the mother. The baby is at high risk of infections — bacterial, viral and fungal,” she said. “[The cause] is often the herpes virus. We absolutely must not kiss babies on their mouths.”

Gilhespie said the teething “myth” had begun in Victorian times, and had somehow survived to the present.

“Why, in the 21st century, are we still perpetuating the myth of teething?” she said. “The eruption of teeth into a baby’s mouth is a painless, localised event.

“There is no cutting of the gum; no pain. Is it because of the interest of pharmaceutical companies in the lucrative sale of teething preparations, homeopathic remedies and anti-pyretic medicines?”

One mother, who asked not to be named, dismissed Gilhespie’s assertion as “incorrect, surely”.

“My youngest has been going through teething problems for weeks, just like my older two went through. It’s an amazing statement she’s making. I can’t accept it”.

But Kubashen Naidoo, from Malvern, said: “I feel conned. We’ve got some of these teething products, and here we learn its really something else completely.”

Gilhespie said one of the few true assumptions about teething was that it did, indeed, trigger excessive drooling — but said this was a natural part of learning to chew.

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