A Parent’s Guide to Teething

Gentle Dental

Baby's teething.

 

When Does Teething Start?

In general, babies start getting their first teeth at around the age of six months. This can vary: Some infants may start teething as early as three months of age while others may be significantly older. Genetics plays a factor: If mom or dad got their teeth early or late, Baby might follow suit. In addition, preemies often start teething later in life than full-term babies.

What is a Normal Teething Timeline?

Pediatric physicians and dentists note that teeth tend to come in pairs every two months at first, with the final sets of teeth coming in about every four months. As a result, a teething time on will often look something like this:

Your baby’s incisors, or front teeth, come in stages: At six months you can expect to see the first two central incisors in your child’s lower jaw. At eight months, the top central incisors come in. At 10 months, the lateral (or side) incisors will emerge in both the lower and upper jaw at around the same time.

After this, you can expect your child’s first molars at around 14 months, canines at 18 months, and second molars at 24 months. Don’t be concerned, however, if your child’s teeth don’t arrive exactly on schedule. Every baby is different and your pediatrician can let you know if there is anything

How Long Will Teething Last?

From start to finish, teething typically takes about 18 months, although the time between each set of teeth will give you and your child some reprieve during the process. If you notice that your baby is displaying teething symptoms for more than a week, yet no teeth actually erupt, consider talking to your pediatrician to rule out other causes for your baby’s behavior.

What are Some Typical Teething Symptoms?

Every baby responds differently to teething, and some experience minimal discomfort. However, there are some symptoms that you can look out for. These include:

  • Irritability: Babies don’t necessarily understand why they are experiencing pain or discomfort and may become irritable or clingy.
  • Puffy gums and drooling: Changes in your baby’s gums, such as puffiness and redness can indicate that teething has begun.
  • Ear pulling: You need to be careful with this one, because this can be a sign of an ear infection. However, the pain of teething can sometimes be experienced in the ear as well.

What Should I Expect During Teething?

This depends in part on your child’s personality and the amount of discomfort he or she experiences. Your child may be fussier and more in need of support and affection during this time. However, some experts have noted that teething symptoms often abate after the first few sets of teeth have come in.

It is important, however, to be on the lookout for signs of infection or severe distress. If your baby has a low-grade fever during teething, continue to monitor his or her temperature. If it lasts for more than a few days or reaches 101°F, seek medical attention.

Are There Any Remedies that Can Help my Baby?

Watching your baby experience discomfort during teething can be difficult. Fortunately, there are numerous remedies that you can make use of to alleviate pain and help your child through this process.

A word of caution is in order, however. Some of the remedies you find online or learn about from friends are neither effective nor safe. Always clear a remedy with your pediatrician before trying it.

Counter pressure or massage: Many babies will seek out opportunities to chew or gnaw on anything that is hard, including furniture, crib railings, and toys. The pressure can hasten the teething process and offers pain relief.

Teething rings and toys are available in many toy stores and baby shops, and you may want to buy a few so that your child can pick his or her favorite. Another option is to use your finger, or a teething ring, to gently massage your child’s gums for a few minutes.

Cold: Cold can provide quick relief from teething pain. You don’t want to give your baby ice, as this can present a choking hazard. However, there are any number of commercially available teething rings that can be frozen. Buy a few of these; you can keep them in rotation so there is always a cold one available.

Another option is to offer your baby cold soft foods (such as applesauce) during this time. Do not, however, give your infant so-called “teething biscuits” or frozen foods, such as carrots or fruit slices. These items can break apart in your baby’s mouth and, just like ice, present a choking hazard. Another trick is to feed the baby with a silicone-covered baby spoon so that you can combine nutrition, cold, and something to chew on.

Some infants also like to have their gums massaged with a cold fingertip or cold teething ring. You can do this for up to two minutes at a time, though again you will want to be careful if your baby already has teeth that have erupted.

Over-the-Counter Pain Relief:  If home remedies don’t work, you may want to consider over-the-counter pain relief options after talking to your physician. These would include acetaminophen and ibuprofen products that have been formulated for babies. There is some question about the safety and efficacy of topical analgesic products, so you should always talk to your doctor and get his or her advice.

Final Word

Teething is an important developmental milestone. As your baby’s teeth come in, he or she will be able to enjoy a wider variety of foods with the rest of your family. This is also a good time to begin your baby’s oral health regimen.

Soft bristle infant toothbrushes can be used with a little bit of warm water on your child’s gums during the teething process. Once a tooth has erupted, you can use a tiny amount of toothpaste to clean the tooth each day. You may also wish to consult with a pediatric dentist regarding an appropriate oral health program for your child; you can find a list of our offices here.

Over time, you will want to make oral health care a part of your child’s daily routine. Supervise brushing and flossing until your child has shown that he or she is capable of doing this on his or her own. Many experts believe that this starts at about the age of six.