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Teething Guide for New (and Experienced) Parents

Teething - Teething symptoms in babies include fussiness and disrupted sleep patterns.

As a parent, you want the best for your child, which is why you do everything you can to keep your baby happy. But when children aren't acting like themselves, they may be trying to tell you there's something wrong. Fussiness and disrupted sleep patterns are typical teething symptoms. Teething is the process where primary teeth erupt from the gums in infants and toddlers. Baby teething is completely normal but may be an uncomfortable experience for some.

Teething usually begins at around 6 months of age and continues until your child is about 3 years old. Most parents start to notice the first signs of teething between 4-7 months of age, but don't panic if your infant isn't right on schedule. Infant teething can start earlier or later, with some children teething as early as 3 months or as late as 12 months. The time that baby teething begins may be hereditary -- on rare occasions, some infants have even been born with a tooth or two!

The Teething Process Timeline

Teeth actually start developing in the womb well before your child is born. Tooth buds form and develop into primary teeth, which lie beneath the gums until they are ready to erupt. While baby teething varies from child to child, tooth eruption usually follows the following timeline: 


Baby Teeth                            _____Position                                                                   Age________

Lower Central Incisors                   Bottom front teeth                                                 6-10 months

Upper Central Incisors                   Top front teeth                                                       8-12 months

Upper Lateral Incisors                    Either side of front teeth                                      9-13 months

Lower Lateral Incisors                    Either side of front bottom teeth                        10-16 months

First Molars                                        Between cuspid and second molars              13-19 months

Cuspids (Canine Teeth)                 Between lateral incisors and first molars       16-23 months

Second Molars                                  Back of mouth                                                       23-33 months 


When the teething process is complete, your child will have 20 baby teeth to proudly show off!

Teething Symptoms

Baby teething may be painless for some but very uncomfortable for others. You may want to make yourself aware of the signs of teething -- knowing what to expect to make the process easier on both you and your teething baby.

Common teething symptoms include:

  • Increased drooling
  • Irritability, crankiness or fussiness from discomfort
  • Crying
  • Decreased sleeping from discomfort
  • Tender or swollen gums
  • Rejecting food from sore gums
  • Chewing on objects to relieve pain
  • Mild rash or skin irritation around mouth, neck or chest from drooling
  • Pointing to or covering the mouth
  • Rubbing cheeks or ears due to referred pain from the eruption of the molars

Soreness or swelling usually starts 3-5 days before the tooth breaks through the gums. As the tooth emerges, the gums may appear red and swollen over the tooth, possibly even blistering. Teething symptoms should subside after the tooth emerges.

You may have noticed that fever, diarrhea, runny noses and coughing are not on this list. These conditions are common in children and may occur at the same time as teething but are not teething symptoms. While swollen gums may cause your temperature to rise slightly, there is no proof that infant teething causes fevers or any other flu-like symptoms. If your child has any of these symptoms, it may be a sign of another illness and you should call your doctor. But the stress children may experience during teething can affect their immune system and leave them more vulnerable to infections.

Baby Teething Treatment

Teething is not harmful to children and does not require medical treatment. That being said, there are things you can do to help ease your child's discomfort. Gums tend to feel better when gentle pressure is applied, so rubbing gums with a washcloth or clean finger may give your baby some relief from teething symptoms. If your child is old enough to grasp objects, you can give them something hard to chew on (make sure it's clean, safe and large enough to prevent choking). There are plenty of teething products on the market, including infant teething rings and baby teething crackers.

Cool objects can reduce inflammation, but are not recommended for prolonged use. If the pain is causing feeding problems, you may opt to change the type of bottle or sippy cup your child is using. You can also take steps to prevent rashes by wiping your baby's face to remove the drool. Placing petroleum jelly on the chin, neck and chest can also help prevent rashes from drooling. A children's pain reliever may also help, but be sure to contact your doctor before giving your child any medicine. For more information on soothing teething symptoms, check out our teething remedies article.

Taking Care of Your Baby’s New Teeth

Dental hygiene is especially important during teething. Tooth decay can cause teeth to fall out prematurely, causing permanent teeth to come in crooked. Dental care starts before any signs of teething start. You should wipe your baby's gums daily with a clean washcloth or gauze and start brushing teeth with child-sized toothbrush and water once baby teething begins. You can start using fluoride toothpaste when your child is old enough to spit it out, which is usually around the age of 3 (use only a pea-sized amount and don't let your kids swallow the toothpaste to help prevent fluorosis).

Once teething is complete, you can switch to brushing twice a day and after meals. Flossing can start when the teeth start to touch. To help prevent dental problems during the teething process, don't let your baby fall asleep with bottle in his or her mouth. This can cause baby bottle tooth decay -- even a child with just one or two teeth can suffer from bottle rot!

It's understandable that the irritability your baby may feel during infant teething may be a concern. If your child's teething symptoms are severe or don't improve, you should contact your pediatrician. A dental visit is also in order by the time your child turns one or gets his or her first tooth. Dental exams are recommended at this age to make sure the teething process is on the right track. Also be sure to check for early warning signs of dental problems.

If your child is ready for his or her first dental visit, call us at 1-866-970-0441 -- we'll help you find a great dentist to take care of all of your baby's dental needs!

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