Updated on February 9, 2024
6 min read

What Are the Signs Your Baby Is Teething?

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Teething is a natural process and occurs when baby teeth start to break through the gums. It can lead to babies feeling discomfort, which usually lasts for 2 to 3 days.

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.

Key Takeaways

  • 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
  • Talk to a doctor if your baby shows any concerning symptoms like a high-grade fever, a rash, diarrhea, or refusing to eat
baby biting teething toy

Signs Your Baby is Teething

Most teething signs develop because it 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

Normal Symptoms

Symptoms commonly associated with teething include:4

  • Drooling or dribbling more than usual — Irritation of the gums during teething can stimulate saliva production
  • Increased chewing or biting — Pressure from biting on their fingers or objects can help alleviate your baby’s discomfort
  • Mood changes — Teething may make your baby irritable or cranky, but this doesn’t apply to all
  • Difficulty sleeping — Teething can cause restlessness at night
  • A slight rise in body temperature — A minor elevation in temperature might be labeled a fever, but it should not go above 102 degrees Fahrenheit (high-grade fever)
  • Swollen gums — Your baby’s gums are under pressure when new teeth come in
  • Refusal to eat, drink, or suckle — Teething pain may cause your baby to avoid these activities
  • Ear pulling — Babies may pull on their ears in an attempt to alleviate pain or pressure
  • Rash formation — Excessive drooling can lead to a rash on your baby’s chin or the edges of their mouth

Concerning Symptoms

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:

  • A high-grade fever or a fever lasting multiple days
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Sores or blisters in or around the mouth or elsewhere

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

Teething Timeline

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:

Front Teeth

TimelineTooth development
5 to 10 monthsBottom front teeth or bottom central incisors
8 to 12 monthsTop front teeth or top incisors
9 to 16 monthsTop and bottom lateral incisors

During the 8 to 12-month period, the development of top incisors can overlap with the eruption of bottom incisors.

Back Teeth

TimelineTooth development
13 to 19 monthsFirst molars or back teeth
16 to 12 monthsCanine teeth between the lateral incisors and molars
2 years oldSecond molars
3 years oldFull set of 20 baby teeth

The teething process will be finished by the time your baby is 2 years old.

3 Ways to Soothe a Teething Baby

There are a few ways you can give your teething baby relief:

1. Give Them Something to Bite

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.

2. Use Cold Teething Toys

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.

3. Provide gentle care and reassurance

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.

Teething Remedies To Avoid

Avoid teething jewelry like necklaces or bracelets. These come with several risks, including:

  • Choking
  • Strangulation
  • Oral injury
  • Infection

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:

  • Anbesol
  • Baby Orajel
  • HurriCaine
  • Orabase
  • Cepacol

Common Misconceptions About Teething

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:

Early or Delayed Teething

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.

Babies Don’t Need a Dentist Yet

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 your baby’s teeth are properly developed.

Last updated on February 9, 2024
9 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 9, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Lyttle et al. “Tooth eruption and teething in children.” The Pharmaceutical Journal, 2015.
  2. Maheswari et al. “Early baby teeth”: Folklore and facts.” Journal of Pharmacy & Bioallied Sciences, 2012.
  3. Macknin et al. “Symptoms Associated With Infant Teething: A Prospective Study.” Pediatrics, 2000.
  4. Memarpour et al. “Signs and symptoms associated with primary tooth eruption: a clinical trial of nonpharmacological remedies.” BMC Oral Health, 2015.
  5. Noor-Mohammed, R., and Basha, S. “Teething disturbances; prevalence of objective manifestations in children under age 4 months to 36 months.” Medicina oral, patologia oral y cirugia bucal, 2012.
  6. Zerr et al. “A Population-Based Study of Primary Human Herpesvirus 6 Infection.” New England Journal of Medicine, 2005.
  7. Teething or Sick: How to Tell in Your Baby.” Franciscan Health, 2019.
  8. Anton et al. “Natal and Neonatal Teeth: A Case Report and Mecanistical Perspective.” Healthcare (Basel), 2020.
  9. Sanguida et al. “Age and Reasons for First Dental Visit and Knowledge and Attitude of Parents Toward Dental Procedures for Puducherry Children Aged 0-9 years.” J Pharm Bioallied Sci, 2019,
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