Teething

  • Medical Author:
    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

View Parent's Guide to Crying and Colic

Teething facts

  • Teething is the process by which a baby's teeth erupt, or break through, the gums. Teething generally occurs between 6 to 24 months of age.
  • Symptoms of teething include irritability, tender and swollen gums, and the infant wanting to place objects or fingers into the mouth in an attempt to reduce discomfort. Fever, cough, diarrhea, and cold symptoms are not found when a child is teething.
  • Oral over-the-counter pain relievers (acetaminophen [Tylenol] or ibuprofen [Children's Advil/Motrin]) generally provide relief of symptoms.
  • Topical medications containing benzocaine may cause serious and potentially lethal side effects and should not be used to treat teething symptoms.

What is teething?

Teething is the process by which an infant's teeth erupt, or break through, the gums. Teething is also referred to as "cutting" of the teeth. Teething is medically termed odontiasis.

When do babies start teething?

The onset of teething symptoms typically precedes the eruption of a tooth by several days. While a baby's first tooth can appear between 4 and 10 months of age, the first tooth usually erupts at approximately 6 months of age. Some dentists have noted a family pattern of "early," "average," or "late" teethers.

A relatively rare condition, "natal" teeth, describes the presence of a tooth on the day of birth. The incidence of such an event is one per 2,000-3,000 live births. Usually, this single and often somewhat malformed tooth is a unique event in an otherwise normal child. Rarely, the presence of a natal tooth is just one of several unusual physical findings which make up a syndrome. If the possibility of a syndrome exists, consultation with a pediatric dentist and/or geneticist can be helpful. The natal tooth is often loose and is commonly removed prior to the newborn's hospital discharge to lessen the risk of aspiration into the lungs.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/23/2016

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  • Teething - Baby's First Tooth

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