- Teeth Eruption
- Teething Symptoms & Signs
- When to Call a Doctor
- Calming a Teething Baby
- Oral Hygiene for Babies
Babies start teething at around 6-12 months, although some may begin teething as early as 4 months. In rare cases, a baby may be born with its first teeth (natal teeth). By age 3, most toddlers have their entire set of 20 baby teeth, often called primary teeth or milk teeth.
Each baby is different when it comes to teething, and not every baby will start teething at the same time. If you have concerns about your baby's teeth, talk to your pediatrician or a pediatric dentist.
What order do a baby's teeth come in?
During the first 3 years of a baby's life, they will develop five different types of teeth. The teeth typically erupt in a specific order, although this varies somewhat from child to child and is nothing to be concerned about:
- Central incisors (front teeth), which are typically the first to erupt (the bottom ones will often erupt before the upper ones)
- Lateral incisors ( teeth between the central incisors and canines)
- First molars
- Canines (teeth next to lateral incisors and beside the front molars)
- Second molars, which are typically the last to erupt
How can you tell whether your child is teething?
Teething can be quite painful and uncomfortable for a baby. Your baby may have signs and symptoms that include:
- Loss of appetite
- Sleeping difficulties
- Pain, redness, and tenderness in the gums
Fever is generally not a sign of teething.
When should you see a doctor?
If your baby exhibits the following symptoms, you should seek medical help right away:
What is the best way to calm a teething baby?
When an infant is teething, you can help soothe their gums with the following tips:
- Gently stroking or massaging your baby's gums with a clean finger, a chilled spoon, or a wet gauze pad to ease soreness.
- Giving them a clean, nontoxic baby teether to chew on. Baby teethers should be made of solid rubber and designed to be used by teething babies. Avoid teethers with liquid fillings or plastic components that could break or injure your baby.
- Administering painkillers if recommended by your doctor.
- Applying numbing gels or lotions if your child is over age 2 and if it is recommended by your doctor. Avoid over-the-counter oral numbing treatments.
What is the best way to look after your baby's teeth?
Oral hygiene before teeth eruption
- Clean your baby's mouth twice a day.
- Place your baby on your lap with their head near your chest so you can see into your baby's mouth.
- Gently touch the top and lower gums with a clean, damp washcloth or soft towel.
- Gently rub your baby's tongue with a soft cloth bathed in lukewarm water.
- Distract them with a toy, since many babies dislike getting their mouths cleaned.
Oral hygiene after teeth eruption
- Fluoride can be introduced to your baby's diet as early as 6 months old. Fluoride is a mineral that hardens teeth enamel, prevents tooth decay, and is necessary for good dental health. In several countries, fluoride is added to tap water.
- Brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste. Once your child gets a tooth, you can begin brushing it twice a day. Use a soft-bristle, infant-sized, dentist-approved toothbrush with a very small amount of toothpaste to gently brush your baby's teeth.
- Visit your pediatrician regularly so they can check the health of your baby's teeth. Once your baby reaches age 1, they can start seeing a pediatric dentist.
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American Dental Association. "Eruption Charts." <https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/e/eruption-charts/references>.
DiMaggio, D., and Cernigliaro, J. "Baby's First Tooth: 7 Facts Parents Should Know." American Academy of Pediatrics. <https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/teething-tooth-care/Pages/Babys-First-Tooth-Facts-Parents-Should-Know.aspx<.
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