Your baby is teething when his or her first set of teeth, called primary teeth, break through the gums.
Teething usually begins around 6 months of age. But it is normal for teething to start at any time between 3 months and 12 months of age. By the time your child is about 3 years old, he or she will have all 20 primary teeth.
The lower front teeth usually come in first. Upper front teeth usually come in 1 to 2 months after the lower front teeth. See a picture that shows when the primary teeth come in.
Some babies are fussier than usual when they are teething. This may be because of soreness and swelling in the gums before a tooth comes through. These symptoms usually begin about 3 to 5 days before the tooth shows, and they disappear as soon as the tooth breaks the skin. Many babies don't seem to be affected by teething.
Babies may bite on their fingers or toys to help relieve the pressure in their gums. They may also refuse to eat and drink because their mouths hurt.
Many babies drool during teething, which can cause a rash on the chin, face, or chest.
Mild symptoms that get better usually are nothing to worry about. Call your doctor if your baby's symptoms are severe or don't get better.
Here are some tips to help your baby feel better while teething:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against using teething gel on a baby's gums to reduce pain. The gel can make a baby's throat numb. This may cause difficulty swallowing. The medicine in the gel may also harm a baby.
Learning about teething:
Knowing what to expect:
Primary teeth are usually known as "baby teeth." Usually, the first primary tooth comes in (erupts) at about 6 months of age, although it can be as early as 3 months or as late as 1 year of age. In rare cases, a baby gets a first tooth after his or her first birthday. By age 3, most children have all 20 of their primary teeth.
Primary teeth usually erupt in a certain order:
Secondary, or permanent, teeth usually begin replacing primary teeth around 6 years of age. Permanent teeth erupt in roughly the same sequence as primary teeth. Usually, a permanent tooth pushes the primary tooth out as it erupts.
Many times you might not know that your baby has a new tooth coming in until you see it or hear it click against an object, such as a spoon. Some babies may show signs of discomfort from sore and sensitive gums, be cranky, drool, and have other mild symptoms. These symptoms usually begin about 3 to 5 days before a tooth erupts and go away as soon as the tooth breaks through the gum.
Teething does not cause fever over 101°F (38°C), diarrhea, or diaper rash. Mild symptoms that gradually improve usually are nothing to worry about and may even be related to a viral infection or other condition. Severe or ongoing symptoms should be closely watched and discussed with your doctor.
Do not hesitate to call your doctor any time you have concerns about your child's teething. It is also a good idea to talk to your doctor if your child has unusual tooth development, such as late eruption of the first tooth. Tooth development issues usually resolve on their own or are easily treated.
If your baby has discomfort while teething, you can:
Although some parents use topical gels and other teething remedies, there are questions about how effective and safe these products are. Talk to your doctor about which types of products are safe and how often they can be used.
You can give your child the best chance for healthy teeth and gums.
Home treatment usually helps relieve minor teething symptoms such as discomfort, drooling, and irritability. But talk to your doctor if your child has other symptoms that become severe or last longer than a couple of days.
Also, talk to your doctor about any other teething concerns, such as if your child:
Your doctor may refer your child to a dentist who specializes in children's teething problems, if this seems to be needed.
All children need early and regular dental care. During well-child visits the doctor will check your child's dental health. A visit to a dentist is recommended within 6 months of when your child's first tooth comes in but no later than your child's first birthday.1
Some parents dread their child's first visit to the dentist's office. You can make a trip to the dentist more positive for your child if you choose his or her dentist carefully. Talk to your child about what to expect. And if you want, use books that are meant to help a young child prepare for the first dental exam. If you have concerns about how your child will behave, talk to your dentist before scheduling the visit. Your dentist may allow your child to come in once or twice before being examined. These types of visits help prepare your child and often make him or her more comfortable with the dentist, other staff, and the office environment.
Regular dental visits are important to teach your child good dental care and to help prevent cavities and other problems. The exam also helps to identify and treat problems early and prevent them from becoming more serious. For more information on routine checkups and tooth care, see the topics Basic Dental Care and Tooth Decay.
- American Academy of Pediatrics (2008). Preventive oral health intervention for pediatricians. Pediatrics, 122(6): 1387-1394. Available online: http://www.pediatrics.org/cgi/content/full/122/6/1387.
Other Works Consulted
- Fenick AM, Nelson LP (2011). Oral health supervision. In CD Rudolph et al., eds., Rudolph's Pediatrics, 22nd ed., pp. 47–52. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Karp JM (2011). Delayed tooth emergence. Pediatrics in Review, 37(1): e4–e17.
- Klein U (2012). Oral medicine and dentistry. In WW Hay Jr et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Pediatrics, 21st ed., pp. 465–476. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine
Current as ofSeptember 9, 2014
Current as of: September 9, 2014
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