When do babies start teething?
Your baby’s first teeth start to develop while they are still in the womb, however, they usually grow through their gums at around the age of six to nine months. Teething symptoms may begin a few days or weeks before you see the first tooth. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes babies are born with teeth, sometimes they start teething in their first 4 weeks or their first 4 months and sometimes they only start teething after the age of 12 months.
The first teeth that start to push through their gums are your little one’s bottom, front teeth, known as lower incisors, followed by the top front teeth or upper incisors. From there, your baby’s teeth should appear from the front going towards the back of the mouth, until the last molars appear at around 20 to 30 months of age.
Children usually have all 20 of their milk teeth by the time they’re two to three years of age, but remember that each child is different.
This chart shows the order in which milk teeth break through:
|When your baby is around this age:||These teeth that are likely to appear:|
|5 to 7 months||bottom incisors (bottom front teeth)|
|6 to 8 months||top incisors (top front teeth)|
|9 to 11 months||top lateral incisors (either side of the top front teeth)|
|10 to 12 months||bottom lateral incisors (either side of the bottom front teeth)|
|12 to 16 months||first molars (back teeth)|
|16 to 20 months||canines (towards the back of the mouth)|
|20 to 30 months||second molars|
Is teething painful?
When your baby’s milk teeth begin to move up from the bone into the mouth (jaw) and break through the gums, it may cause pain, swelling and tenderness. Symptoms can start anywhere from 3 to 5 days before the tooth finally breaks through the gums. During this time, you may find that your little one is fussy and irritable.
What are the signs of teething in babies?
Before the first milk teeth appear, your baby might show these early
signs of teething:
• In some cases, a slightly higher temperature than usual (less than 38C)
• Drooling or dribbling more than usual and sucking
• One flushed cheek or a rash on their face
• Rubbing their gums
• More biting and chewing than usual
• Crying or irritability
• Rubbing their ear
• Disturbed sleep
Sometimes you might be able to see where your baby's tooth is about to come through as you might notice a swollen or red area on the gum.
How can I help soothe my baby's teething pain?
Extra cuddles and hugs may comfort and distract your teething baby, but each baby is different so you may have to try different things before you find something that works. You might find that if they’re chewing a lot, giving them something firm to bite on such as a cooled teething ring helps soothe their gums. Cool the teething ring by chilling it in the fridge for a while but don’t freeze it as it could damage their gums. Never tie a teething ring around your baby’s neck, as it may be a choking hazard.
If your baby is weaning, you could also try giving them healthy foods to chew on, such as raw fruit or vegetables like an apple or carrot or chilled banana and cucumber pieces. Never leave a child unattended when they’re eating, in case they choke.
If your baby is 3 months of age or older, in pain or if other ways of soothing have not worked, then giving them a pain relief medicine such as ibuprofen or paracetamol may help. Nurofen for Children Oral suspension contains ibuprofen and can be given to babies from 3 months old and weighing over 5kg. It helps to relieve teething pain and brings down a high temperature.
Other ways to help soothe your baby are:
- Massaging your baby's gums with your clean finger
- If your baby is drooling more than usual, wipe their chin and face with a clean flannel or baby wipe frequently to help prevent them from getting a rash
Coping with a teething baby
Coping with a teething baby can be hard and distressing for parents. Ask for family or friends support if they are available.
Have a look at some other tips to help keep the whole household’s spirits up:
- Share night-time soothing duties with your partner if you can.
- If night sleep is disturbed, encourage plenty of naps for the whole family. Even a 10-minute nap during a break can recharge you.
- Make sure you take teething rings with you when you’re out and about.
- You can also offer your baby a cold, clean, wet washcloth by putting it in the fridge until it’s chilled and letting them gnaw on it for as long as they wish.
- Keep a spare teething ring in the fridge at all times. That way you will be ready to soothe your teething baby at night without running out of clean cold teething rings.
- If your baby is extra fussy due to teething at night, try walking around with them cuddled to your chest if you can. Close contact can help soothe babies and make them feel secure.
How do you care for your baby's new teeth?
Your little ones' milk teeth or baby teeth will be with them until they get their adult teeth at the age of around six years old. Milk teeth have thinner enamel (outer layer of the tooth) and because of this, are more affected by decay and erosion that can cause holes.
Follow these tips to keep your baby's new teeth clean and healthy:
- Babies need their teeth brushed with fluoride toothpaste as soon as they break through the gums. For babies up to the age of three years old, use a tiny smear of child-friendly toothpaste. For children between the ages of three and six years old, use a pea-sized amount on their toothbrush.
- The easiest way to brush a baby’s teeth is to sit them on your knee and rest their head against your chest. Brush the teeth in little circles, making sure you reach all surfaces before asking them to spit out the toothpaste.
- Sugar is very bad for your baby’s teeth because it causes tooth decay. Lollipops and sugary drinks in baby bottles are especially damaging because they cover your baby’s teeth in sugar for long periods and are more likely to cause decay.
- Avoid dipping your baby’s dummy or bottle teat into sweet or fruit-based drinks.
- If you choose to give your child fruit juice, only give them one drink of diluted fruit juice (150ml) per day, at mealtimes. (Dilution should be 1 part juice to 10 parts water.)
- When giving your child pain relief medicine, rather ask for a sugar-free option from your pharmacist or doctor.
- Only give your weaned child water during the night; avoid sugary drinks or milk. Children who have not been weaned yet can have breast or formula milk.
- Try not to leave your baby or toddler with a feeding bottle or trainer cup in their mouth for long periods, like when they go to bed as this can be damaging to your little one’s teeth.
- Avoid giving your child a sweet as a treat. That said, offer your child non-food items such as stickers, colouring pencils or little toys.
When should I take my baby to see a dentist?
Consider a dentist visit for your little one as soon as they get their first teeth and certainly by their first birthday. This will help them become familiar with the experience. You could take them for their first visit when you or someone else in the family goes for a routine appointment. If your child does not want to open their mouth on their first visit, don’t worry. It’s more important that they get used to visiting the dentist and the dentist gives you time to ask for advice on caring for your little one’s teeth.
Starting with good brushing habits and dental checks from an early age will help your child look after their teeth into adulthood. The time between dental appointments should not exceed 12 months.