When your baby's first pearly white tooth shows up, along with surprise you must be anxious too. You must know what teething is and the symptoms associated with it to avoid unnecessary apprehensions. 

Babies are born with all those 20 primary teeth below their gum line. They naturally start to erupt between 6 to 12 months. In some cases, it may appear from as early as 3 months or as late as 14 months depending on many hereditary factors. 

Likewise, how babies experience teething also varies. Some may have nearly no symptoms, while other babies experience teething pain for months. There are some signs, for most cases to watch for such as excessive drooling (saliva flowing outside of your baby's mouth unintentionally) and crankiness-weeks before a tooth actually emerges, while others show no signs at all.

Signs and Symptoms of Teething

Here's what to expect during teething:

  • There might be soreness and swelling of gums at the time of teething which will make your kid irritable. 

  • Your baby may have disturbed sleep, irritability, loss of appetite, may drool more than usual, try to bite, chew, and suck on everything, have swollen gums, and mild fever.

  • Swollen gums: The gum around the erupting tooth may become reddened, swollen, and tender.

  • There may be drooling/dribbling present as teething stimulates salivation.

  • There may be rash formation due to excessive drooling. The skin around the baby’s mouth and chin may become irritated, resulting in the appearance of mild rashes.

  • Fussiness: Your baby may be very irritable and may keep on wailing due to the pain and discomfort. After the early teething experience, he/she will eventually get used to what teething feels like and will not be so disturbed later on.

  • Ear pulling and cheek rubbing: The pain from the erupting teeth can radiate to somewhere else like ears, chin, and cheeks. Pulling on the ears or rubbing on the cheek is another sign your baby may show, indicating pain.

Order Of Tooth Eruption

How and when your baby will start teething depends on your family history of the baby. 

  • However, the first teeth to erupt are the two teeth on the lower front, followed by the opposite upper front two teeth, and two on either side of these. 

  • Next comes the two on either side of the bottom front teeth, then the first molars appear. Next are the teeth in the front of the first molars. 

  • The last molars are the last ones to erupt. 

By the age of three, all the 20 baby teeth will eventually be in place. 

How To Soothe The Pain

  • Use a wet frozen washcloth or teething toy chilled in the refrigerator which numbs sore gums.

  • Gently massage with the clean finger in the area where the tooth is still deep in the gum and hasn't formed a painful bruise and where it's about to erupt.

  • Distract the child from pain by offering a new toy or by giving little extra cuddling.

  • Give pain relievers only when the pain is extreme and only after consultation with your doctor.

How to Care for Your Baby’s Teeth

Good oral hygiene is important even before the baby has teeth and the following are the ways to practice good oral hygiene for your baby:

  • Clean the gums of your baby with wet washcloths or with gauze pieces at least once a day until the teeth start coming.

  • Repeat the above twice a day after the teeth have erupted. The best time to clean the teeth is after feeding your baby.

  • After your baby turns 1, you can either use a finger brush or soft-bristled baby toothbrushes with a small amount of toothpaste (without fluoride) and water.

Remember that your baby’s paediatrician is your ally and hence let them know about the baby’s teeth at the next appointment. The doctor can make sure that everything looks fine and/or recommend a pediatric dentist is needed. 

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.