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Teething is a natural process. It 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. This occurs around 6 to 10 months of age.
The discomfort of tooth eruption usually lasts for 2 to 3 days.
There are some common symptoms that suggest your baby is starting to teethe. Many 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:
The first teeth to erupt are usually the bottom front teeth or the bottom central incisors. These come through at around 6 to 10 months.
The top front teeth, or the top incisors, erupt at 8 to 12 months. These can overlap with the eruption of the bottom incisors.
The teeth next to the front teeth are also called the lateral incisors. The top and bottom sets usually erupt at around 9 to 16 months.
The first molars, or the back teeth, come when a baby is 13 to 19 months old. The canine teeth between the lateral incisors and the molars erupt shortly after that, around 16 to 23 months.
When a child is 2 years old, their second molars will start to erupt. At this point, the teething process is complete. By 3 years of age, most children will have a full set of 20 baby teeth.
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. It’s an active ingredient in several over-the-counter (OTC) products like Anbesol, Baby Orajel, HurriCaine, Orabase, and Cepacol.
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.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.
Baby teeth generally start coming in between 3 and 12 months of age. Teething can be painful and uncomfortable, but special care and reassurance will help your baby get through it.
Sometimes, infections can cause symptoms that are easily mistaken for normal teething. Pay close attention to rule out other causes.
Talk to a doctor if your baby shows any concerning symptoms like a high-grade fever, a rash, diarrhea, or refusing to eat.
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