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Teething Issues With 3-year-olds

by Christina Schnell

By 3 years old, your child has almost a full set of teeth -- her second molars might not be fully in place until 3 1/2 years old, according to the University of Queensland School of Dentistry. Although your little one has more understanding and a wider range of medication options now than she did two years ago, she also has a full set of teeth to bite with and a more powerful scream when melting down.

Cool Application

Cool surfaces reduce the inflammation associated with teething by constricting the blood vessels, according to a University of Queensland School of Dentistry research paper. But unlike an infant, a 3-year-old might resist chewing on a traditional cooled teething ring. Instead, provide her plenty of cool foods throughout the day such as skinned apple slices, chilled strawberries or cool melon balls, according to KidsHealth.

The Chewing

The pressure from chewing can reduce pain by overwhelming all the nerves in the region, according to the University of Queenland School of Dentistry paper. This makes idle chewing a hazard. When she was an infant it was different because most toys designed for that age group are safe enough for an occasional chew. However, most 3-year-old's toy collection includes many more choking hazards and potentially toxic materials -- think of the paint on dad's childhood matchbox cars. If you notice your toddler starting to idly gnaw, offer something thick and crunchy, such as dry toast or a chilled carrot.

More Medicine, More Expectations

Between preschool, sharing, not hitting and not screaming, the expectations of a 3-year-old are much higher than those for infants, which makes the general crankiness and discomfort of a teething 3-year-old that much more challenging. Fortunately administering ibuprofen in the appropriate dosage listed for your child's weight can provide safe pain relief for hours, according to the University of Queensland School of Dentistry.

Maintaining Hygiene

As an infant, ditching her nightly gum swabbing during teething wasn't a big loss because she had so few teeth anyway. But, by the age of 2 years, 28 percent of kids have dental decay, according to HealthyChildren.org. That's why it's now more important than ever to continue brushing twice daily with training toothpaste -- even when she's whining and teething. Use a toddler size-size brush with soft bristles so you're not causing unnecessary discomfort, but neglecting to brush her teeth now because she's makes a fuss will be nothing compared to the fuss of having a cavity filled.

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