Teething is the growth of teeth through the gums in the mouth of infants and young children.
Teething usually begins when a baby is between 6 and 8 months old. All 20 baby teeth should be in place by the time a child is 30 months old. Some children do not show any teeth until much later than 8 months, but this is usually normal.
- The two bottom front teeth (lower incisors) usually come in first.
- Next to grow in are usually the two top front teeth (upper incisors).
- Then the other incisors, lower and upper molars, canines, and finally the upper and lower lateral molars come in.
The signs of teething are:
- Acting cranky or irritable
- Biting or chewing on hard objects
- Drooling, which may often begin before teething starts
- Gum swelling and tenderness
- Refusing food
- Sleeping problems
Teething does NOT cause fever or diarrhea. If your child develops a fever or diarrhea and you are worried about it, talk to your health care provider.
Tips to ease your child's teething discomfort:
- Wipe your baby's face with a cloth to remove the drool and prevent a rash.
- Give your infant a cool object to chew on, such as a firm rubber teething ring or a cold apple. Avoid liquid-filled teething rings, or any plastic objects that might break.
- Gently rub the gums with a cool, wet washcloth, or (until the teeth are right near the surface) a clean finger. You may place the wet washcloth in the freezer first, but wash it before using it again.
- Feed your child cool, soft foods such as applesauce or yogurt (if your baby is eating solids).
- Use a bottle, if it seems to help, but only fill it with water. Formula, milk, or juice can all cause tooth decay.
You can buy the following medications and remedies at the drug store:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) or ibuprofen can help when your baby is very cranky or uncomfortable.
- Teething gels and preparations rubbed right on your baby's gums may help the pain for a short while. Be careful not to use too much.
What not to do:
- DO NOT tie a teething ring or any other object around your child's neck.
- DO NOT place anything frozen against your child's gums.
- NEVER cut the gums to help a tooth grow in, because this can lead to infection.
- Avoid teething powders.
- NEVER give your child aspirin or place it against the gums or teeth.
- DO NOT rub alcohol on your baby's gums.
For information on dental hygiene and preventing tooth decay, see also: Tooth decay in early childhood