When Do Babies Start Teething and What are the Symptoms
Do you have an unusually cranky baby on hand? Have you noticed your little one nibbling away at your clothes, fingers, and toys?
You may want to inspect his or her gums. There’s a likelihood that your baby’s first teeth are coming in. Teething is a unique experience for every parent, with most complaining of episodes of incessant crying and fussiness.
If you think your baby’s teeth are cutting in, stay with us. In this article, we discuss the expected timeline for teething in infants, the common symptoms, and of course, strategies to tackle a cranky baby.
When do babies start teething?
Teething or odontiasis as it is medically termed involves the teeth cutting through the gum line. Speaking of when babies start teething, there is no fixed age. It usually occurs between 4 to 12 months of age.
Your baby may start experiencing symptoms several weeks before you see the first tooth emerge. You may see the first tooth around the 6 months, but again that is just an estimate. Some babies don’t get their first tooth till their first birthday.
As every baby is different, it could be earlier or later in a few. Also, the severity of symptoms might vary from child to child, with some experiencing trouble for months. So, don’t worry if your friend’s baby gets his teeth by 6-9 months but your little one doesn’t.
How long will it take before all your baby’s teeth show up? It could be around two years before your baby has a mouth full of teeth.
What is the order in which the teeth erupt?
Your baby’s teeth cut through in a specific order. The first two teeth to erupt are the two center teeth along the bottom jawline. This is followed by the two, upper front teeth. They usually occur within the first 6 to 12 months after birth.
Once the center teeth are out, the lateral incisors cut through. Close behind, you will notice the front molars. The lateral incisors and front molars erupt by the time your child is 19-20 months.
The canines on both sides of the lateral incisors erupt after the molars. And finally, the molars at the end of the mouth cut through. They are the most painful of all the teeth as the area is larger.
The canines and the molars come out before your child celebrates his/her second birthday. Your baby will have a total of 20 teeth in his mouth
What are the symptoms of teething?
Teething causes immense discomfort and pain. Here are some of the typical symptoms that are tell-tale signs that your baby has started teething. Again, they could be different in each child, some experiencing all, while others just one or two.
- Tender gums – New teeth push upwards through the gum tissue. Therefore, pain and discomfort are commonly associated with symptoms of teething. Pain is often coupled with slight gum swelling and redness. Some teeth (for instance, molars) could be more painful than others (incisors) when erupting.
- Increased drooling – If you’re soiling more drool towels than usual, it is a sure sign. Teething promotes salivation and hence the excess drooling. The extra saliva soothes sore gums.
- Skin Irritation – Excessive drooling may cause mild rash or skin irritation along the mouth. The constant wetness may cause the skin to chaf or turn red.
- Biting and chewing – With your baby’s choppers coming in, they become eager to explore the world around them with their teeth. Thus, a common indication of teething is biting or nibbling. For instance, they start chewing on their hands, your fingers, teething rings, and toys or even the plastic rods and bumper. If you’re still breastfeeding, you will also notice increased sucking. Babies find the chewing or biting action very useful in relieving pressure and discomfort caused by the teeth pushing out through the gums.
- Disturbed Sleep – The pain and discomfort in the gums could disrupt sleep in teething infants. Be prepared for sleepless nights.
- Crankiness – Unable to express their pain and discomfort babies become restless, irritable and cranky. You will find yourself dealing with unexplained episodes of endless crying. They may also get irritable due to their hunger not being satisfied.
- Decreased appetite – The sore gums can cause your children to refuse food resulting in poor food intake. It may not be as bad in infants feeding from a bottle or breastfeeding.
- Low-grade fever – While many doctors do not believe fever to be a symptom of teething, many parents have noticed a slight rise in temperature usually less than 100F during the teething phase. The inflammation in the gums may cause a slight fever.
- Coughing or gagging – Though less common, your little one may gag or cough due to the excess drool produced.
- Pulling ears – Generally, when the molars start sprouting, with the pain in the back of the mouth, you will notice your infant pulling their ears or rubbing their cheeks. They do this in a frantic effort to relieve the pain.
- In most cases, you will observe a new set of four teeth erupting every six months.
- The bottom gum line (for corresponding teeth) fills up faster than the upper gum line.
- Teeth cut through in pairs; thus the left and right tooth of the same type will erupt at roughly the same time.
- Girls have been noticed to start teething earlier than boys.
Caring for your baby’s teeth
There are a few things you can do to put your little one at ease when they are teething. It is essential that you maintain good oral hygiene. You should clean your baby’s mouth even after all their teeth have sprouted. You can use a soft-bristled baby toothbrush to clean their teeth. If you must use toothpaste, choose one meant for babies, with no fluoride in it.
Gently wipe the gums clean using a soft washcloth, especially after feeding. Massage your baby’s gums with a clean finger. It will put pressure and relieve discomfort. Offer your finger as a chew stick for your baby. Your finger works the same way as a teething ring.
Keep wiping the chin dry whenever you notice the drool dripping. Fasten a bib to soak the drool. You can also use a light moisturizer or plain vaseline for the area under the lips and the chin. Choose something that will soothe the tender skin on your baby’s face.
Keep a good stock of chew toys and teething rings to relieve the pressure on the gums. You can also use wet washcloths to relieve gum discomfort. Get them to bite down on the chew toys (they will automatically chew on them).
Some types of teething rings can be placed in the fridge to cool down. Firm and cold toys are better at relieving inflammation. You can also use a cold spoon. Avoid putting the teething rings in a freezer. Excessively cold chews can make the gums sorer. Make sure the toys, teething rings, or washcloths you use are clean.
Instead of panicking when your baby is having a meltdown, try to relax and settle him. Sing him a lullaby or pat him gently on the back. Do not try feeding your baby again.
If you are breastfeeding a teething baby, you may end up with sore nipples due to the excessive sucking, nibbling or biting. Massage the gums with a cool finger to relieve discomfort so that your little one won’t bite down on your nipple.
If your baby has already started solid foods, You can try giving chilled foods like maybe a slice of cucumber, a little yogurt, or a piece of fruit. However, keep a watch that your baby does not choke on it. For children older than six months, drinking cold water from a sippy cup has shown to help.
There are a number of over-the-counter medications that can also be used to relieve pain. Acetaminophen is the most commonly used pain reliever. But you should consult your pediatrician or dentist before you use it.
Many parents also ask about using topicals to help with achy gums. Some even ask about using rubbing alcohol. Do check the ingredients used in these topicals.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve of their use given the side effects. Selected numbing agents are said to cause excessive drowsiness. Some get washed down into the throat numbing the throat instead of the gums.
Give your baby all the attention he demands. Be patient when dealing with a teething baby. A few extra cuddles and snuggles may help make them feel comfortable.
Keep a check on your baby’s diet to maintain dental health. Avoid sticky, sugary snacks. Don’t let your baby fall asleep with the bottle in his mouth. The liquid pools in the mouth and causes tooth decay.
When should you visit a doctor?
Most parents don’t find the need to visit a doctor during the teething phase. However, you can always be alert to a few unpleasant symptoms that may warrant a visit to the doctor.
- If your baby develops a high fever, accompanied by cough and congestion. Fever above 100F lasting more than 2-3 days is a major cause of concern.
- If your baby has vomiting and diarrhea.
- If you notice a fine rash developing on the different parts of the body.
- If your baby’s gums start bleeding.
- Small fluid-filled blisters along the teeth eruptions are normal. However, if you observe any pus along the gum line, you should be worried.
- If you notice any swelling on the face.
- High fever and excessive ear pulling could be a signal of other underlying infections, for instance, an ear infection. Hence, do check it out with your doctor.
Pediatricians do not recommend the use of teething necklaces. They have been the cause of serious choking hazards. While every parent’s intention is to calm and out their baby at ease, make sure that the teething aids you use are safe and approved. Those adorable, toothy grins will make you forget all the pain you’ve been through.