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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.
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 set 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.
By the time 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.
Teething usually doesn’t come with any symptoms. However, a baby can exhibit some signs to indicate they’re beginning the teething process. These symptoms include:
Fever, diarrhea, and rashes are not signs of teething. However, most parents mistakenly believe they are.
Parents can easily soothe teething symptoms using home remedies. These include:
Teething toys should be made of solid rubber or hard plastic. Avoid giving ones that are filled with liquid. If a child has sensory stimulation needs, ask their primary healthcare provider for safer options.
Pain medication is often unnecessary, so it should be a last resort. Tylenol or Advil is safe for babies over 6 months old. However, parents should give this for 1 or 2 days only. As always, consult with a doctor prior to giving babies pain medication.
Frequent use of pain medication can lead to liver or kidney damage in babies.
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.
These products can be dangerous because they can cause methemoglobinemia. It’s a potentially fatal condition where the red blood cells’ capacity to carry oxygen is significantly reduced.
Benzocaine products are also ineffective because they wash out of a baby’s mouth in minutes.
Parents should also avoid teething gels containing lidocaine. There is little evidence to support their effectiveness, and they can cause severe reactions in children and babies.
It’s important to take care of a baby's teeth in order to ensure a healthy start in life.
Parents should bring their baby to a pediatric dentist once they see the first tooth erupt but no later than the baby's first birthday. A dentist can make sure the teething process runs smoothly and that the baby’s teeth are healthy.
If a baby has diarrhea, rashes, or a high fever, an underlying condition may be causing their discomfort.
A pediatric dentist may also recommend seeing a pediatrician. Fevers can indicate infections in the ear or urinary tract.
Most babies experience teething when they’re at least 4 months old. The process is complete once all of the primary teeth erupt. This can take up to 3 years.
Diarrhea, high fevers, and rashes are not teething symptoms. Parents should bring their baby to a doctor if he or she is experiencing any of these signs or symptoms.
Parents can gently rub a clean finger, cool spoon, or wet gauze along their baby’s gums to ease discomfort. They can also use teethers made of hard plastic or solid rubber.
Avoid teething jewelry and teething gels containing benzocaine or lidocaine.
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