Every child is different, but usually teething starts around 6 months and most children have a full, shiny set of teeth by the time they are 2½ years old. There is a wide range of variability of when a first tooth may appear—some babies may not have any teeth by their first birthday! Around 3 months of age, babies will begin exploring the world with their mouth and have increased saliva and start to put their hands in their mouth. Many parents question whether or not this means that their baby is teething, but a first tooth usually appears around 6 months old.
Before the tiny teeth even appear, your baby might have the following symptoms:
- Sore and red gums
- A flushed cheek
- Dribbling more than usual
- Repeated gnawing and chewing on things
- More fretful than usual
It can take a couple of years for your baby’s full set of teeth to appear, and teething can cause distress for some babies. Implement these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics website below to help them come through it smiling.
Massaging sore gums can help soothe your baby’s teething pain.
Cheek rubbing and ear pulling is caused by pain in the gums, which can travel to the cheek and ear, especially when the molars are erupting. Infants will rub these areas. Keep in mind that ear pulling or rubbing can also be a sign of an ear infection, please contact your infant’s pediatrician if this symptom continues or is accompanied with a high fever.
How to help your infant’s cheek rubbing and ear pulling: Try rubbing and massaging the gums with a clean finger for one to two minutes to help with the discomfort. Usually teething doesn’t cause children too much discomfort, however, many parents can tell when their baby is teething. Babies may show signs of discomfort in the area where the tooth is coming in, the gums around the tooth may be swollen and tender, and the baby may drool a lot more than usual.
Do not use teething tablets, gels with benzocaine, homeopathic teething gels or tablets, or amber teething necklaces.
Stay away from teething tablets that contain the plant poison belladonna and gels with benzocaine. Belladonna and benzocaine are marketed to numb your child’s pain, but The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings against both due to potential side effects.
In addition, amber teething necklaces are also not recommended by the FDA. Necklaces placed around an infant’s neck can pose a strangulation risk or be a potential choking hazard. There is also no research to support the necklace’s effectiveness. See Teething Necklaces and Beads: A Caution for Parents for more information.
If your little one is really suffering, sugar-free paracetamol or ibuprofen can be given to relieve teething symptoms in babies and young children aged 3 months or older, but always follow the instructions that come with the medicine or check with your GP if you’re unsure.
Reduce rashes and teething-induced diarrhea.
Babies produce more saliva when teething, so have extra muslin clothes and your Pura wipes to hand to clear up the dribbles. Wiping your baby’s face right away may help to prevent teething rashes. You may also want to keep a comfy bib on your little one to protect their clothes.
Some parents believe that their babies suffer from teething-induced diarrhea (check with your doctor if you’re concerned or unsure), which can lead to nappy rash. Both Pura wipes and nappies are designed to protect sensitive skins and prevent irritation. If you find your baby’s stool is loose or watery more regularly, you might need to stock up on extra supplies.
Make your first dental appointment when the first tooth appears.
Try to make your baby’s first dental appointment after the eruption of the first tooth and by his or her first birthday. Both the AAP and the AAPD recommend that all children see a pediatric dentist and establish a “dental home” by age one.
A pediatric dentist will make sure all teeth are developing normally and that there are no dental problems. They will also give you further advice on proper hygiene. If you don’t have a pediatric dentist in your community, find a general dentist who is comfortable seeing young children. And remember to stay away from sugar if you want to keep their brand new gnashers in tip top condition!
Brush up with fluoride toothpaste.
From the moment the first pearly-white milk tooth appears, you can get your baby their own toothbrush and toothpaste! The new teeth should be brushed with a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste, specially designed for babies, twice a day.
Once your child has a tooth, you should be brushing them twice a day with a smear of fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice, especially after the last drink or food of the day. Remember not to put your baby to bed with a bottle—it can lead to tooth decay.
Once your child turns 3, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)recommend that a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste be used when brushing.