The process of teeth cutting through the gums can often lead to sensitive and swollen gums, increasing a child's irritability. This is why teething is a popular scapegoat anytime a baby is cranky, whether or not they are actually cutting teeth or not. To determine whether teething is the culprit, you can run a finger along the gums and try to feel whether any teeth may be on their way.
Another common symptom is excessive drooling, which also makes this one of the most obvious hallmarks of teething. Teething stimulates the desire to chew, which in turn activates the salivary glands [source: Cohen]. Drooling by itself may seem like a small distraction, but it can lead to other issues. Excessive moisture can cause the skin to become irritated and lead to rash and inflammation, and excessive drainage can lead to a cough.
The urge to chew can also mean biting, another common symptom parents should be on the lookout for. As the teeth make their way to the surface, the gums may become sore. The counter pressure biting provides offers relief from the soreness, and anything a baby can get his hands on is likely to wind up in his mouth.
These symptoms can lead to slightly more serious teething side effects, including loss of appetite, sleeplessness and bruising of the gums.
A sensitive mouth may prohibit babies from eating food, especially solids. Liquids should offer a way around this and mitigate any risk of malnutrition, but it's probably a good idea to monitor food intake during this period. Sleeplessness can also be the result of teething if babies are too uncomfortable to soothe themselves. And finally, teething can sometimes cause bruising or bleeding of the gums. While to parents this may look alarming, it's likely not terribly painful for the child. If this happens, it's easy enough to swab the area and make sure the blood is coming from the gums.
It's important to keep in mind that each of these symptoms may also be caused by illness, so whenever in doubt, parents should consult a physician. Now that you understand some of the symptoms of teething, let's explore some remedies you can use to alleviate the discomfort.