Learning how to manage the teething process.
Whoever coined the term “bundle of joy” to describe babies knew what they were talking about—from the instant they’re born, our little ones add so much joy to our lives. That said, your bundle of joy is still a lot of work, especially if you’re a new parent. There’s a lot to learn about caring for your baby and their oral health, especially since they grow and change so quickly. As your little one grows, you may find yourself wondering about teething. While you want to do your best to care for your baby, we know you likely don’t have a lot of free time to research this topic, so we’ve done some of the legwork for you. Here are the answers to the teething questions parents ask us most often.
When can I expect my baby’s first tooth?
Every baby grows and develops at a different rate, but most babies will begin teething at around six months of age. The lower front incisors, also referred to as the lower front teeth, are generally the first teeth to come in. You can consult a baby teething chart to help you determine when and in what order your baby’s teeth are likely to erupt.
My seven-month-old is cutting teeth. How long does this last?
This phase of the teething process, when the teeth cut through your child’s gums, usually takes about eight days from start to finish. This includes about four days before the tooth erupts through the gums and three days afterward. There’s no exact answer to how long your child will be in this phase of the teething process, though, so it could take a little less or more time than this estimate.
My baby is nearly eight months old with no teeth. Is that normal?
Yes. Every child grows and develops at a different rate. Although six months is the average age for children to start teething, it’s not set in stone—some children start teething as early as four months of age, while others start as late as 12 months. You don’t need to worry unless your child reaches 16 months and still doesn’t have any teeth, at which point you may want to begin looking into a cause for the delay.
What are the signs of teething?
There’s a range of symptoms you’ll likely notice right away when your child begins teething. This includes fussiness or irritability, chewing on anything they can get their hands on, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, and increased drooling. Since their gums will likely be sore and tender, you may also notice your baby rubbing at their face or mouth.
My baby chews on her fingers (and mine!). Does that mean her teeth are coming in?
Babies have a tendency to chew or suck on their fingers whether or not they’re teething, but chewing on anything they can get hold of is also a common symptom of teething. If you notice them doing this more often or chewing on objects they wouldn’t normally—including you!—this may be a sign that they’re teething. Look out for other symptoms like those mentioned above, such as increased drooling and reduced appetite.
Does teething cause a fever?
Your baby might develop a very low-grade fever during teething, but it shouldn’t rise above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If it does, there may be something else going on as well, so it’s best to take your little one to the doctor. Similarly, diarrhea and rashes are commonly reported by parents as teething symptoms, but research hasn’t shown a connection. If your child is displaying these symptoms, they might be sick in addition to teething.
How can I make teething easier on my baby?
There are several ways you can make teething easier on your little one. Pressure can ease teething symptoms, so try rubbing your baby’s gums with a wet cloth or your own (clean) fingers. Cool temperatures also help, so you can put a spoon or teething ring in the refrigerator to get it cold before giving it to your child to chew on. If they seem like they’re in a lot of pain, you can also give your child infants’ over-the-counter pain medication.
Are there solutions that I should avoid?
Absolutely. Unfortunately, there are plenty of dangerous “solutions” out there that you should avoid. Some homeopathic remedies can be downright dangerous. According to Mayo Clinic, lab analysis has shown increased levels of belladonna (which can cause seizures and breathing issues) in homeopathic products. You should also avoid medications containing benzocaine or lidocaine, as they can be fatal to babies. Additionally, never give your child necklaces or other pieces of jewelry to chew on, as these items pose risks like choking and strangulation.
Are there dentist-approved teething rings or toys?
Yes. When you’re buying teething rings or toys, always look for solid rubber objects rather than rings filled with liquid or toys that contain plastic that could break. Similarly, avoid teething toys like necklaces with small plastic parts—you don’t want anything that could break or become a choking hazard, especially since it’s meant to be chewed on. Toys labeled as meant for teething aren’t always safe, so make sure to consider what it’s made out of and do your research before you make a purchase.
When will my baby finish teething?
Teething is a long process, but most children should have all their teeth by the time they turn three years old. Looking at a baby teeth chart will help you predict the process a little better by giving you an idea of which teeth your child is likely to get at different ages.
While there’s certainly a lot to learn about the teething process, there’s also a lot you can do to help ease your child through this period of their life. Thankfully, you don’t have to manage the learning process alone! You can call our office to ask any questions you may have or to schedule your child for a dental checkup with Dr. Shea at any time.