Between 4 and 7 months of age, most infants will encounter a dental milestone: their first tooth. Depending on a number of factors, your baby's first tooth may come in months earlier or later than average. Your baby's teeth began developing below the surface while they were still in the womb.
Generally, teeth will emerge in pairs. Often, the first teeth to show through the gums are bottom middle teeth, followed by the top front teeth. The other teeth will continue filling in until the last set of molars emerge. By age 3, most children have a complete set of 20 baby teeth which will stay with them until their permanent teeth begin coming in at around the age of 6.
You may notice that your baby is becoming more fussy and irritable a few weeks before the first tooth breaks through their gums. Sometimes you will also see a raised bump in the gums where the tooth is coming in. There are a number of other symptoms you may notice once your child begins teething.
Understanding Symptoms of Teething
Doctors have been unable to agree on whether many of the common symptoms associated with teething are a direct result of the process or simply occur at the same time. Regardless, many parents witness their babies encountering similar symptoms, including:
- Low-grade fever
- Increased drooling
- Refusing food
- Trouble sleeping
Since many of these symptoms could also indicate illness, it is important that you contact your baby's pediatrician if they last for more than a few days.
You will notice that your baby may be trying to chew or bite anything they get their hands on while teething. The biting pressure helps to relieve some of their discomfort, so giving them a rubber teething ring or cold washcloth can be helpful. A bottle of cold water or chilled solid foods, such as applesauce or yogurt, may also help if your baby can eat them. Even rubbing a clean finger gently but firmly across your baby's gums may help soothe them.
If these methods don't seem to be helping, speak with a doctor about giving your baby a small dose of children's pain reliever. Remember, it is never a good idea to give your child aspirin because it can put your baby at risk for developing Reye's syndrome, a life-threatening condition associated with aspirin consumption in children.
There are also many topical oral pain relievers that you can buy at drug stores, but make sure to speak with your baby's doctor before using them. Using too much can cause your baby's throat to become numb and interfere with their gag reflex.
Due to increased drooling, some infants will develop a chin rash. Lightly wipe drool away with a soft, cotton cloth and apply a thin coating of petroleum jelly to their chin before naps or bedtime.
For more tips on helping your baby cope with the difficulties and discomforts of teething, speak with your pediatric dentist. If you need help finding a dentist for your child, we can help!