Introduction to Baby Teething

As parents, it is an over joyous moment, to see the first tooth erupting in your baby’s little mouth. Although it is one of the biggest milestones to be celebrated in the first year of your baby’s life, teething can pose a challenging time for both, you and your baby. 

Teething is when the first teeth come through a baby's gums. In a majority of babies, the first teeth sprouts when they're between 4 and 7 months of age. An early developer may get his/her first white cap as early as 3 months, while a late bloomer may have to wait until he/she is a year old or more. In rare cases, a baby's first tooth is already visible at birth. 

Teeth actually start developing while your baby is in your womb when tooth buds form in the gums. Teeth break through, one at a time over a period of months, and often -but not always in this order:

  • First the bottom two middle teeth, then the top two middle ones, and then the ones along the sides and back appear.

  • They may not all come in straight, but don't worry — they usually straighten out over time.

  • The last teeth to appear (the second molars, found in the very back of the mouth on the top and bottom) have usually begun coming into place by your baby's second birthday. 

  • By the age of 3, your child should have a full set of 20 baby teeth, which shouldn't fall out until his permanent teeth are ready to start coming in, around the age of 6. 

Symptoms of Baby Teething

Experts disagree about whether teething actually causes symptoms — like fussiness, diarrhea, and fever, or whether these common symptoms are not related to teething at all and just coincidentally appear at the same time as emerging teeth. Regardless, many parents agree that their teething babies do experience discomfort, though some babies get through the process with no problems at all. The symptoms most likely to trouble a teether include:

• Drooling (the flow of saliva outside your baby’s mouth) which can lead to a facial rash 

• Gum swelling and sensitivity

• Irritability or fussiness

• Biting behavior

• Refusing food

• Sleep problems

• Flushing of cheeks

• Mild rash around the mouth due to skin irritation from excessive drooling

Though many parents report that their babies have loose stools, runny noses, or fever just before a new tooth arrives, most experts don't think teething is to blame for these symptoms. One possible reason may be that teething can cause diarrhea and a mild diaper rash, because your baby's excessive saliva ends up in his/her gut and loosens his/her stools. 

Inflammation in the gums may cause a low fever (under 101 °F).On the other hand, these may be signs of illness that should be reported to your paediatrician.  

Symptoms may be due to an underlying infection that is unrelated to teething. However, remember that the stress associated with teething could make your child more vulnerable to infection right before a new tooth appears. If your baby has loose stools but not diarrhea — do not worry. The condition will clear up on its own.

Tips for Soothing Your Baby During Teething

1. Give your child something to chew on, such as a firm rubber teething ring or a cold, washcloth. If your baby is old enough to eat solids, he/she may also get some relief from cold foods such as applesauce or yogurt. 

2. Give your baby a hard, unsweetened teething cracker to gnaw (bite or nibble) on. Examples of teething crackers include rice teething husks and other teething biscuits. Avoid carrots, as they can be a choking hazard. For older children, give them softer foods for a while so they don’t have to chew so much.

3. Rub your baby’s gums with a finger, a clean cloth, or a gauze. Simply rubbing a clean finger gently but firmly over your baby's sore gums can ease the pain temporarily.

  • Rubbing the gums with topical pain relief gel is also an option, but you may want to visit your baby's doctor before trying it. 

  • If you use too much, it can numb the back of your baby's throat and weaken your baby’s gag reflex (reflexive action when something touches the roof of your mouth, back of your tongue, or area around your tonsils, which helps to prevent choking). 

  • The gels are generally safe to use, but in rare cases can cause an allergic reaction.

4. Wipe your baby’s drool softly. If the drool causes a rash on your baby's face, wipe, but don't rub the drool away with a soft cotton cloth. 

  • You can also smooth petroleum jelly on your baby's chin before a nap or bedtime to protect the skin from further irritation.

5. Avoid teething gels and teething tablets. Teething gels can be harmful to your baby if they swallow them in large quantities. 

  • Do not use any teething tablets without consulting your child’s paediatrician. 

  • Do not give amber teething beads to your child as the beads can break apart and choke your child. 

6. Add fluoride to your child’s diet at the age of 6 months. 

Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent tooth decay by hardening the enamel of your child’s teeth. 

  • Your baby can start sipping on tap water (which contains some amounts of fluoride) at about 6 months of age. Check with your pediatrician to see if your tap water contains fluoride or whether your child needs fluoride supplements.

While teething can make your baby cranky and irritable, remember to celebrate this milestone. Consult your paediatrician in case your child shows any unusual symptoms during this phase.

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.