I caved. We went to our family physician this morning to check out the earache situation — no earache. Apparently, the swelling from teething causes some jaw pain, which is why babies would put their hands to their jaw/ear area. And since the ear is the only thing around to tug at, they tug. Viola! — mommy’s misdiagnosed ear infection.
So we are indeed teething. Doc recommends infant’s Motrin as opposed to Tylenol. He said the latter really does nothing for the pain and is used mainly as a fever reducer. Motrin, however, will help reduce discomfort with swollen gums.
He has his own theories about the correlations between the symptoms babies display while teething and the strength of their teeth later on in life. He said some of his kids would pop a tooth out of nowhere — but his first would cry and whine for weeks, and when one little tooth made its way through the gums, it would all stop. He said his eldest never brushed his teeth and still has not had a cavity to this day. Theory: the teeth are stronger in babies who have a hard time when they are coming in.
Under normal circumstances, this theory would seem silly. Our doc, however, is the proud daddy of twelve, so I think I’ll write it down and see if it proves true.