Twenty-nine-year-old Pascasie Mujawingoma, a resident of Kinyinya sector in Gasabo District has been having sleepless nights because of her child’s condition.
A few weeks ago, her baby developed mild temperature and diarrhea. When Mujawingoma approached the health facility, she was told that the child was developing teeth.
“My child was only three months when he developed two teeth on his lower jaw. I was worried because this came along with high fever and vomiting forcing me to seek medication. I had opted to remove the teeth to reduce the fever,” she says.
However, Dr Alphonsine Mukandoli, the Director of Stomatology (a branch of dentistry that focuses on mouth and nearby structures) at Kigali Teaching University Hospital (CHUK), defines this condition as teething and the symptoms should be nothing to worry about.
“Some parents mistake this phenomenon as abnormal tooth, which is not true. Parents should seek correct medication from hospitals rather than using rudimentary approaches,” she warns.
Dr Mukandoli adds that teething can occur in children between 6 to 7 months of age.
“Within this period, teeth could be forming in the mouth but may still be small to be seen at a glance,” adds Dr Mukandoli.
The dentist however warns that people should not mistake all these side effects like vomiting since some could be a result of hygiene related issues especially for parents who have a habit of touching their children in the mouth. “Chances are high that the symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, and vomiting are a result of poor hygiene.”
Risks of mutilation
Dr Mukandoli further warns that uprooting a native tooth can result in growth of teeth on the wrong sides or interfering with the whole growth of the infant stage.
“Uprooting can damage the strength of mouth bones. It’s not advisable at all. In case of dental problem in children seeking medical advice should be the first step,” she adds.
Most people who practice oral mutilation, do it with the help of traditional healers because they believe those children could be possessed by evil spirits.
However, the president of AGA-Rwanda Net Work association of traditional healers, Daniel Gafaranga condemns the act saying that this is just a normal growth of teeth.
While some traditional healers treat them by uprooting, Gafaranga advises that even when abnormal features are seen, treatment should be left for trained medical workers to avoid any possible complications.
“The so-called abnormal teeth should be treated by specialists, taking the risk of uprooting them as it’s still practiced by some parents, can result into further complications,” he explains.
How to differentiate teething from other illnesses
Epimak Kayiranga,a dentist at University Teaching Hospital(CHUK), explains that children show some disease related symptoms but these should not be associated with hygiene related infections that are common in crawling children.
“Many call them abnormal teeth. The symptoms including fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. When a child is exposed to unhygienic conditions especially during crawling or sitting, it is easier for them to touch and even put objects they come across into the mouth,” he says.
Just like Kayiranga, Dr Raymond Awazi, a pediatrician at La Croix du Sud Hospital in Kigali says that teething should not cause any single problem since signs disappear after development.
“There is nothing like abnormal teeth. Some times when tooth is uprooted it does not grow again which is a violation of the children’s rights,” he says.
Dental experts point out that parents should watch out for one or more of the following symptoms of teething that include; irritability, biting and crushing teeth among others.