Teething and Teeth

A first tooth! How exciting! It's also a little reminder that your precious little newborn is growing everyday and you may not see that gummy smile again.

When does the process of teething begin?

Generally a baby will get their first tooth around 6 months. However, this does vary from baby to baby. If your baby develops teeth before or after 6 months it is completely normal and nothing to worry about.

The first tooth will nearly always be one of the front bottom teeth.

When a baby begins teething, there is no set pattern on when it will begin, how long it will take and how painful it will be. For one baby cutting a tooth might happen overnight without pain, while another child might have to go through a long, drawn out and painful experience. You may sometimes visibly see a rise or lump in the gum for several weeks, while sometimes there may be no visible clue at all until the tooth actually appears.

The process of teething often follows hereditary patterns, so if the mother and father teethed early or late, your baby may follow the same pattern. On average the first tooth comes in during the seventh month, although it can arrive as early as three months, as late as a year, or in rare cases even earlier or later.

Which teeth come in first and how many will there be?

In total there are twenty primary (first) teeth, which is twelve less than the full set of thirty-two permanent teeth adults have. Most children have a full set of primary teeth by the time they are around two or three years old. These teeth usually last until about the age of six, when the teeth that were first to appear become loose and fall out as the second teeth begin to push through the gums. The primary teeth continue falling out until roughly the age of twelve. Again, these ages mentioned above are only averages and your child may follow an earlier or later pattern. The following is the most common pattern in which your baby's teeth will usually appear:



6 to 7 months
Two central bottom & Two central top teeth.

7 to 9 months
Two more incisors
Top & bottom; making four top & four bottom teeth in all.

10 to 14 months
First molars
Double teeth for chewing

15 to 18 months
The pointed teeth or "fangs"

2 to 3 years
Second molars
The second set of double teeth at the back

What are the symptoms of teething?

The symptoms of teething vary from child to child. Because of these different experiences, parents and physicians often disagree as to the symptoms of teething and how painful it is.

The list below shows symptoms that a teething baby may experience. While most parents usually agree that some or all of the symptoms below happened around the time of teething, it is still recommended that if your baby experiences any of these symptoms you check with your pediatrician to rule out other possible causes for the symptoms.

Irritability: As the sharp little tooth rises closer to the surface your baby's gums may become increasingly more sore and painful, leading to your baby being very fussy. The pain and discomfort is most often worse during the first teeth coming in and later when the molars come in because of their bigger size. This is most often the case since babies become accustomed to the sensations of teething and learn to live with them. But you may find your baby may be fussy during the whole time that every tooth comes in. Every child reacts differently.

Drooling: From three to four months of age you may see your baby start drooling more often than normal. Teething stimulates drooling, which is often worse with some babies than others.

Coughing: The extra saliva can cause your baby to occasionally cough or gag. This is usually nothing to worry about as long as your baby seems fine and shows no signs of a cold or flu and does not run a high fever.

Chin rash: If your baby is a big drooler, the constant contact with saliva can cause the skin around the chin and mouth to become irritated. To help prevent this, gently wipe your baby's mouth and chin periodically throughout the day.

Biting & gnawing: A baby that is teething will gnaw and gum down on anything she or he can get their mouth around. The counter pressure from biting on something helps relieve the pressure from under the gums.

Cheek rubbing and ear pulling: Pain in the gums may travel to the ears and cheeks particularly when the back molars begin coming in. This is why you may see your baby rubbing their cheeks or pulling at their ears. However, keep in mind that pulling at an ear can also be a sign of an ear infection.

Diarrhea: While this is a symptom that is disagreed upon by physicians, researchers and parents, most parents usually notice slightly looser bowel movements when a baby is teething. While the recent study done by the Children's Hospital in Australia found this to be the most common symptom of teething, there are still many people that will agree and disagree with this recent study. It is believed that the most likely cause of this is the extra saliva swallowed, which then loosens the stool. Be sure and report any diarrhea to your doctor that lasts more than two bowel movements.

Low-grade fever: A fever is another symptom that doctors are sometimes hesitant to directly link with teething. But there are many parents who will disagree with this and find their baby gets a slight fever while teething. The best thing to do is be extra safe and notify your doctor if a fever last more than two days.

Not sleeping well: With teething pain happening during the day and night, you may find your child wakes more often at night when the pain gets bad enough. Most parents agree that the night waking happens more often during the first set of teeth and with the molars.

Cold like symptoms (runny nose, etc.):  Some parents find that their baby will show signs of having a cold. Runny noses, coughing and general cold symptoms are believed to come from the baby having their hands in their mouth more often. Play it safe and always notify your doctor if symptoms such as this occur.

How can I help my baby with the pain?

There are several things that you can try to help ease the pain of teething; some work and some don't, but most parents agree they're always worth a try.

Teething rings, water filled and chilled rubber teething toys; mom and dads fingers can all provide counter pressure that can sometimes bring relief. Offering your baby a cold bottle of water can also help. If sucking on the bottle bothers your child, offer a cold cup of water. The water can also help replenish your baby's fluid if they're drooling a lot or have loose bowel movements.

Cold food has also been found to be helpful by some parents. Chilled apple sauce, yogurt and pureed peaches may be more appealing to your baby and also more nutritious than a chilled teething ring.

When nothing else helps, you can also turn to the Infant Paracetamol. Before giving your child Infant Paracetamol always check with your doctor first. Your doctor will tell you if it's all right and what the proper amount is to give your baby.

Baby Orajel and other teething pain medicines that are applied to the gums can also provide some relief. Some parents say the Baby Orajel type products work great, while other parents will say it doesn't. Also check with your doctor before giving this type of over the counter pain reliever to your baby.

The teething process will come and go just like so many other things with new babies.  Keep trying different things until you find what provides the best relief for your child.

Note: Before trying any of the suggestions listed above or any other type of home remedy it is highly recommended that you contact your pediatrician first. You should follow your pediatricians advise first before trying anything mentioned on this site or on any other site. Your child's doctor knows what is best for your child.

Facts about teething and teeth:

· If your baby has several teeth coming through there may be some discomfort, so a teething toy filled with a gel like substance may be comforting.

· The teeth at the front do not cause as much discomfort as the back molars due to their shape.

· It is unadvisable to use gels and creams on the teeth as they often contain sugar or medicine. Instead just rub your finger on the sore gum.

· If your baby has teeth on the bottom you do not need to give up breast feeding. It is only when the matching pair on the top arrive that there may be issues with biting.

· The manner in which you care for these first teeth is vital as it is these teeth that lay the path for the next set. Clean the teeth twice daily with a small, soft brush and a small amount of childrens tooth paste. This will be difficult and there may be some resistance but don't give up completely and work in compromise with your baby.

· Fluoride is important to your baby just as it was important to you during pregnancy. However too much fluoride can be harmful. Sometimes fluoride occurs naturally in drinking water, in some places it is added to public water supplies. Find out if there is fluoride in your babies diet and monitor its quantity. You may have to suppliment it with fluoride drops or a fluoride tooth paste.

· Give your baby water as opposed to fruit juice. Fruit juice naturally contains sugar and more than one cupful a day is too much. Encourage your baby to prefer savoury over sweet, your not only teaching good habits for life you are also doing the teeth a big favour as well.


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