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Teething is a natural process and occurs when baby teeth start to break through the gums. Some babies are born with one tooth visible, while the rest are still developing under the gums.
The lower front tooth is usually the first to erupt around 5 to 10 months. The discomfort from tooth eruption usually lasts for 2 to 3 days.
There are various signs that suggest your baby is starting to teeth. Most of these symptoms develop because teething can be painful and uncomfortable.
Keep in mind that every child is different, so they will handle discomfort in different ways. In addition, no one symptom or cluster of symptoms can predict exactly when a tooth is about to come in.3
Symptoms commonly associated with teething include:4
Around the time babies start teething, they lose the protection of their mother’s antibodies against bacterial and viral infections.5 Symptoms that may suggest an infection and not just teething include:
Signs and symptoms of infection are sometimes easy to mistake for teething symptoms. Poor appetite, irritability, and sleep disturbances can be caused by herpes and teething pain.7
Diarrhea can be a sign of illness, but it may be a result of contamination from your baby biting their fingers or contaminated objects. Swallowing excess saliva may also cause looser stools than usual.4
Each tooth can erupt at different times. Teething is only completed when all of a child’s baby teeth have erupted, taking up to 3 years.
Here is an approximate timeline for teething:
|5 to 10 months||Bottom front teeth or bottom central incisors|
|8 to 12 months||Top front teeth or top incisors|
|9 to 16 months||Top and bottom lateral incisors|
During the 8 to 12-month period, the development of top incisors can overlap with the eruption of bottom incisors.
|13 to 19 months||First molars or back teeth|
|16 to 12 months||Canine teeth between the lateral incisors and molars|
|2 years old||Second molars|
|3 years old||Full set of 20 baby teeth|
The teething process will be finished by the time your baby is 2 years old.
There are a few ways you can give your teething baby relief:
Your baby may have a strong desire to bite or chew to relieve teething pain. There are teething toys and teething biscuits or crackers made just for this purpose.
You can even offer your clean finger for your baby to nibble on if their teeth haven’t emerged yet. Massaging your baby’s gums can help relieve pressure.
Cold temperatures can have a soothing effect on teething babies. You can put teething toys in the fridge to cool them down or place a small cold spoon over your baby’s gums.
Avoid giving your baby anything frozen solid. This might be too hard on their mouth.
Yogurt, fruit or vegetable puree, and other cold foods can also provide relief. Teething meshes or feeders allow babies to gnaw on solid food safely.
Holding and comforting your baby will go a long way in helping them through teething. You can wipe their mouth to prevent a rash from forming due to excessive drooling.
However, if your baby has trouble sleeping through the night, you’ll want to avoid encouraging a habit of early waking. After providing comfort, try to encourage self-soothing.
If your baby’s pain seems especially persistent, talk to your pediatrician about providing baby doses of pain relievers. Follow their instructions carefully.
Avoid teething jewelry like necklaces or bracelets. These come with several risks, including:
These kinds of jewelry are often made of different metals, plastics, and wood that aren’t safe for children. Parents should also avoid giving products with benzocaine or lidocaine, which is a local anesthetic.
Both benzocaine and lidocaine are active ingredients in several over-the-counter (OTC) products like:
Contrary to what some parents believe, teething does not cause a high fever. You may notice a slight rise in temperature when your baby is teething. However, a high fever is not a sign of teething.7
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 temperature rise experienced by a teething baby. However, high fever in babies is most likely caused by other illnesses unrelated to teething, such as an infection.
Other misconceptions about teething include:
Although teething typically occurs when a baby is 4 to 5 months old, it can happen sooner. In some cases, babies are born with their first teeth (natal teeth).8
On the other hand, there's nothing to be worried about if your baby doesn't have a tooth by six months. Your baby's teeth may start developing under the gumline but might not come out until 12 months.
Despite not having all their teeth yet, you should still visit a dentist for your baby. It's typically recommended that you visit a dentist as soon as possible or before four months old.9
An oral examination or check-up is important for your baby's oral health, especially if they have natal teeth. This can help prevent potential cavities and ensure that your baby's teeth are developing properly.
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