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Babies’ first teeth (also called primary teeth) usually start growing before they are 4 months old, while some start teething after 10 months.
According to the National Health Service (NHS), most babies grow their first tooth at around 6 months. Also, primary teeth can erupt with accompanying pain in some babies, while other babies might not experience pain.1
Many parents seek ways to soothe their baby with teething toys and pain relievers during teething discomfort.
The bottom incisors of babies’ teeth usually erupt first, followed by the top front incisors, the top lateral incisors, the first molars, bottom lateral incisors, canines, and second molars.6
The baby teething timeline typically runs from about 4 months to 2 ½ years. Not every child will have teeth erupt in the typical sequence.
Some signs can indicate when the teething process has started, such as:
When a baby’s teeth erupt, the process can stimulate the salivary glands. This causes an excessive release of saliva and drooling.
Teething babies feel pressure from under the gums. They tend to bite and chew on their gums or anything inside their mouths.
The counter pressure from biting and gnawing can relieve the pressure underneath the gums.
Teething causes discomfort in babies, which can disrupt their bedtime rest or normal sleep pattern.
Also, cranky babies usually desire to be breastfed. However, the suction might make their sore gums feel worse. The babies end up frustrated and fussy when they don’t find relief.
Pain in the gums can radiate to the ears, especially when molars emerge. Babies experiencing this can’t help but rub that area and pull on their ears. However, note that ear pulling can also signify an ear infection. Contact your child’s pediatrician if it continues.
Similar to the ears, teething pain can also be felt in the cheeks, causing an itching sensation. Your baby will bite his or her cheeks to try and relieve the itching sensation.
Babies get easily irritated during the teething process. They tend to get fussy and cry a lot because of the pain. A child’s growing teeth tend to be more painful if it’s the first tooth that erupts. Most babies get used to teething as time goes on.
Other baby teething symptoms include:
Below are some pain relief tips for easing your baby’s teething symptoms:
You can gently massage your baby’s gums. Put your finger into your baby’s mouth and allow the baby to chew on it. Rub on the gums in a circular motion, applying a little pressure. Make sure you wash your hands before doing this.
Teethers include teething rings or bracelets made of silicone, plastic, or rubber. It is best to use a solid teething ring as the liquid-filled ones may get punctured and released into the baby’s mouth.
Giving your baby cool water may help soothe his or her gums. If you have introduced your baby to solid foods, frozen fruits like bananas or berries might be good options.
For babies that are three months or older, you can give them pain relief medicines like paracetamol. However, be sure to administer the medicines as directed by your physician to avoid overdosing.
Some teething remedies can worsen the symptoms, causing harm to your baby's oral health. These include:
Avoid using numbing gels or creams on your baby’s teeth, as they mostly contain benzocaine.
Benzocaine induces methemoglobinemia (increased level of hemoglobin that cannot carry oxygen). This decreases the amount of oxygen in circulation.5
Just like numbing gels, some teething tablets contain ingredients that cause unpleasant side effects (e.g., belladonna). Belladonna is unsafe when taken orally and can cause enlarged pupils, rapid heartbeat, and fever.
Amber teething necklaces are made of baltic amber beads that are strung together. Some believe amber teething necklaces offer pain relief to a baby’s sore gums. However, they can cause harmful effects such as choking and death and should be avoided.
Your baby’s pediatric dentist can provide medical advice during the first checkup.
When babies start teething, it is usually an unpleasant experience for them and their parents.
While teething is a necessary stage of a baby’s development, it can be associated with some side effects, such as:
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), these symptoms are abnormal. If your baby experiences them, you should take him or her to a pediatric dentist.3
Contrary to what some parents believe, teething does not cause a high fever. You may notice a slight temperature rise when your baby is teething. However, a high fever is not a sign of teething.4
Teething can only raise a baby’s temperature slightly. If a teething baby runs a high fever (above 100.4°F), it would be best to consult a pediatrician.
Fever could explain the slight rise in temperature experienced by a teething baby. However, high fever in babies is most likely caused by other illnesses unrelated to teething, such as an infection.
Teething is a natural developmental process.
Even though it is uncomfortable for most babies, it does not cause harm. See a doctor if your baby cries too often and you are not certain it is because of painful teething. Routine dental checkups are also essential.
See a pediatrician if your baby shows severe symptoms like high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or rashes. Your baby might be suffering from an illness.
Teething is a natural development process in babies that can cause them discomfort. Learning about the symptoms of teething can help you understand what your baby is going through. It will also allow you to provide remedies to ease your baby's pain.
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