The pain of teething

 Photo: Getty Images

If the tooth fairy takes teeth away, it must be something like a goblin who brings them in the first place. Because when you see how much agony babies go through when getting their first teeth, it must be a mean and evil creature.

About three months ago my seven months old twin girls woke up with bright red cheeks, drooled a lot and were a bit grumpy. As a first time mum it was clear to me that they were teething and that it would only be a matter of days before their first little shiny whites would break through their soft skin.

I was about to cancel everything for the rest of the week, telling everybody excitedly, I'm not sure if I can come, my babies are teething!

Oh, little did I know! As of today we still have no teeth.

A couple of times a week, the girls each show what I still think are signs of teething. Rosy red, hot cheeks, brighter than Rudolph's nose. Enough spittle to fill whole mugs. The need to gnaw at everything they find. And foul moods that could work quite nicely as a contraceptive for young couples thinking about starting a family.

These signs go on for a couple of days, and every so often I plop my fingers into their little mouths with anticipation and run them along their jaws: But there's still nothing there but soft gums.

I have since learned there is such a thing as chronic and acute teething. Teeth start to develop in the womb and normally make their appearance when the baby is between 4 and 10 months old.

Unfortunately for most babies, getting teeth is not something that's done and dusted in a couple of days. It's quite normal to show signs of teething for months.

I feel for my girls. Just the (medical) phrase "tooth eruption" sounds terrible. Just imagine having sharp teeth starting to poke through the soft tissue of your gums. Horrible!


It might even take two and a half years until my girls have a full mouth of teeth. Oh the joy!

But for most babies the first cut is the deepest, or rather the cutting of their first teeth (normally the front bottom ones) is the most painful. However, every baby is different, and while some have so much pain that they scream constantly others just seem to wake up one day with some new teeth.

So far we have given our girls Panadol a couple of times, rubbed on some teething gel, have offered them frozen vegetables in those little mash bags, given them all kind of things to gnaw on, massaged their gums with my finger, and, of course, lots and lots of cuddles. It's so hard to see your baby in pain when there's not much you can do about it.

I guess for the next two years, whenever we're not entirely sure what's wrong with our daughters and they're in a bad mood we'll just say "must be the teeth" and then give them some extra love.

And when the teeth are finally all here it's just a couple of years before the first ones starts to come loose and the tooth fairy has to fork out.

We'd better start saving now.