Teething is one of the milestones parents look forward to during the early months of their child’s development. However, teething comes with discomfort (teething pain) for babies and sleeplessness for parents.
Some babies start growing their first teeth (also called primary teeth) before they are four months old, while some start teething after ten months.
According to the National Health Service (NHS), most babies grow their first tooth at around six months. Also, primary teeth can erupt with accompanying pain in some babies, while other babies might not experience pain.1
During periods of teething discomfort, many parents seek ways to soothe their baby with teething toys and pain relievers.
The bottom incisors of babies’ teeth usually erupt first, followed by the top front incisors, the top lateral incisors, the first molars, the bottom lateral incisors, canines, and second molars.6 The baby teething timeline typically runs from about 4 months to 2 and 1/2 years.
Not every child will have teeth erupt in the typical sequence.
There are some signs that can indicate when the teething process has started, such as:
When a baby’s teeth are erupting, the process can stimulate the salivary glands, causing an excessive release of saliva and drooling.
Because teething babies feel pressure from under the gums, they tend to bite and chew on their gums or anything put inside their mouths. The counter pressure from biting and gnawing can relieve the pressure from 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 find relief for neither their stomachs nor their teething pain.
Pain in the gums can radiate to the ears, especially when the molars are emerging. Babies experiencing this can’t help but rub that area and pull on their ears. However, note that ear pulling can also be a sign of 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 on 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 teeth tend to be more painful if it is the first tooth that is erupting. Most babies get used to teething as time goes on.
Other baby teething symptoms include:
A study of 125 children showed that symptoms like sleeping problems and high fever were not significantly associated with tooth eruption.2
When babies start teething, it is usually an unpleasant experience for both the babies 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 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.
Teething fever could be used to describe 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.
Some home remedies can help soothe a teething baby. Below are some pain relief tips for people seeking parenting tips on how to ease their baby’s teething symptoms:
It is necessary to seek health solutions for your baby’s teething pain. However, there are some teething remedies that can worsen the symptoms, causing harm to your baby's oral health.
Your baby’s pediatrician will provide medical advice during your baby’s first dental checkup. Visiting a pediatrician will be helpful for many parents who are nursing a baby.
Teething is a natural developmental process. Even though it is uncomfortable for most babies, it does not cause harm. If your baby cries too often and you are not certain it is because of painful teething, then you should see a doctor. Routine dental checkups are also essential.
If your baby shows severe symptoms like high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or rashes, you should see a pediatrician as the baby might be suffering from an illness.
A baby’s teeth are called primary teeth (permanent teeth will later replace them). Also, babies are normally born with 20 primary teeth below their gum line.
Each tooth erupts until the child has all teeth at about three years of age. Thus, while a baby’s first tooth erupts around 5 to 10 months, tooth eruption continues until the baby is about 33 months old.
“Baby teething symptoms.” National Health Service. 1 February 2019.
Macknin, Michael, et al. “Symptoms Associated with Infant Teething: A Prospective Study.” Pediatrics, Vol. 105,4, (2000): 747-752.
“Teething.” American Dental Association.
“Teething or Sick: How to Tell in Your Baby.” Franciscan Health. 4 December 2019.
Sachdeva, Rajesh, et al. “Benzocaine-induced Methemoglobinemia.” Texas Health Institute Journal, vol.30,4, (2003): 308-310.
"Anatomy and Development of the Mouth and Teeth." Stanford Children's Health.