Discusses teething and what to expect during teething. Covers symptoms and common concerns. Offers home treatment suggestions and tips for keeping your child's teeth healthy. Explains when to call the doctor.
What is teething?
Your baby is teething when his
or her first set of teeth, called primary teeth, break through the gums.
When does teething typically start?
usually begins around 6 months of age. But it is normal for teething to start
at any time between 3 months and 12 months of age. By the time your child is
about 3 years old, he or she will have all 20 primary teeth.
lower front teeth usually come in first. Upper front teeth usually come in 1 to
2 months after the lower front teeth. See a picture that shows
when the primary teeth come in.
What are the symptoms?
Some babies are fussier
than usual when they are teething. This may be because of soreness and swelling
in the gums before a tooth comes through. These symptoms usually begin about 3
to 5 days before the tooth shows, and they disappear as soon as the tooth
breaks the skin. Many babies don't seem to be affected by teething.
Babies may bite on their fingers or toys to help relieve the pressure in
their gums. They may also refuse to eat and drink because their mouths hurt.
Many babies drool during teething, which can cause a rash on the
chin, face, or chest.
Mild symptoms that get better usually are
nothing to worry about. Call your doctor if your baby's symptoms are severe or
don't get better.
How can you help your baby be more comfortable while teething?
Here are some tips to help your baby feel better while
Use a clean finger (or
cold teething ring) to gently rub your baby's gum for about 2 minutes at a
time. Many babies find this soothing, although they may protest at first.
Provide safe objects for your baby to chew on, such as teething
If needed, give your baby an over-the-counter pain reliever that is labeled
for his or her specific age. Read and follow all instructions. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20, because it has been linked to
Reye syndrome, a rare but serious disease.
Many parents use other teething remedies, such as gels
you put on a baby's gums. Many experts question if these work and are safe. If
you want to try these products, talk to your doctor about which types are safe
and how often to use them.
Primary teeth are usually known
as "baby teeth." Usually, the first primary tooth comes in (erupts) at about 6
months of age, although it can be as early as 3 months or as late as 1 year of
age. In rare cases, a baby gets a first tooth after his or her first birthday.
By age 3, most children have all 20 of their primary teeth.
The four upper front teeth (central and lateral
The two lower lateral incisors
The four canines (located on either side next to the upper
and lower lateral incisors)
The remaining molars on either side of
the existing line of teeth
Secondary, or permanent, teeth usually begin replacing
primary teeth around 6 years of age. Permanent teeth erupt in roughly the same
sequence as primary teeth. Usually, a permanent tooth pushes the primary tooth
out as it erupts.
Symptoms of teething
Many times you might not know
that your baby has a new tooth coming in until you see it or hear it click
against an object, such as a spoon. Some babies may show signs of discomfort
from sore and sensitive gums, be cranky, drool, and have other mild symptoms.
These symptoms usually begin about 3 to 5 days before a tooth erupts and go
away as soon as the tooth breaks through the gum.
that gradually improve usually are nothing to worry about and may even be
related to a viral infection or other condition. Severe or ongoing symptoms
should be closely watched and discussed with your doctor.
Do not hesitate to call your
doctor any time you have
concerns about your child's teething. It is also a
good idea to talk to your doctor if your child has
unusual tooth development, such as late eruption of
the first tooth. Tooth development issues usually resolve on their own or are
Controlling symptoms safely
If your baby has
discomfort while teething, you can:
Rub the affected gum. Use a clean finger (or cold
teething ring) to gently rub the area of tooth eruption for about 2 minutes at
a time. Many babies find this soothing, although they may protest at
safe objects for babies to chew on, such as teething rings. Babies who are
teething like to gnaw on things to help relieve the pressure from an erupting
tooth. Having safe objects to chew on can help prevent your baby from chewing
on those that are dangerous, such as electrical cords or window sills that have
Give your baby an over-the-counter pain relief medicine that is labeled
for his or her specific age.
For example, acetaminophen or
ibuprofen may help relieve your
baby's discomfort. Follow all instructions on the label. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20, because it has been linked with
Although some parents use
topical gels and other teething remedies, there are questions about how effective and safe these
products are. Talk to your doctor about which types of products are safe and
how often they can be used.
Promoting healthy teeth
You can give your child
the best chance for healthy teeth and gums.
Take measures to help
prevent tooth decay in your
child's primary teeth. For example, as soon as your baby's teeth come in, start
cleaning them with a soft cloth or gauze pad. As more teeth erupt, clean teeth
with a soft toothbrush, using only water for the first few months. Help
to prevent baby bottle tooth decay by always taking a bottle out
of your baby's mouth as soon as he or she is finished. Clean your baby's teeth
after feeding, especially at night. When your baby
starts eating solids, offer healthy foods that are low
in sugar, and keep milk feedings during the night to a minimum.
well-child visits with your child's doctor. During
these exams, the doctor will check your child's dental
Take your child to
the dentist within 6 months
of when your child's first tooth comes in but no later
than your child's first birthday.1
Home treatment usually helps
teething symptoms such as discomfort, drooling, and
irritability. But talk to your doctor if your child has other symptoms that
become severe or last longer than a couple of days.
talk to your doctor about any other teething concerns, such as if your
Is age 18 months and has not had any
teeth come in.
Has permanent teeth coming in
primary teeth are lost, resulting in a double row of
Has a small jaw or a birth defect of the mouth or jaw, such
Has any facial injury that
has damaged a tooth or gums.
Your doctor may refer
your child to a
dentist who specializes in children's teething
problems, if this seems to be needed.
All children need early and regular
dental care. During
well-child visits the doctor will check
your child's dental health. A visit to a dentist is recommended within 6
months of when your child's first tooth comes in but no
later than your child's first birthday.1
Some parents dread their child's first visit to the dentist's office.
You can make a trip to the dentist more positive for your child if
you choose his or her dentist carefully. Talk to your
child about what to expect. And if you want, use books that are
meant to help a young child prepare for the first dental
exam. If you have concerns about how your child will behave, talk to your
dentist before scheduling the visit. Your dentist may allow your child to come
in once or twice before being examined. These types of visits help prepare your
child and often make him or her more comfortable with the dentist, other staff,
and the office environment.
Regular dental visits are important to teach your child good dental care
and to help prevent
cavities and other problems. The exam also helps to
identify and treat problems early and prevent them from becoming more serious.
For more information on routine checkups and tooth care, see the topics
Basic Dental Care and
Other Places To Get Help
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This American Academy of Pediatrics website has information for parents about childhood issues, from before the child is born to young adulthood. You'll find information on child growth and development, immunizations, safety, health issues, behavior, and much more.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.