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A baby’s first primary tooth usually comes through at around six months of age, however this can occur as early as birth or as late as a child’s first birthday. Teething could then carry on for a year or more.
By the time your child is three, he or she will likely have all their milk teeth.
There is also no telling how long it will take for a tooth to make its way through the gum. Some babies are unsettled and unhappy for only a few days before a tooth is visible, while it is a more prolonged experience for others.
After the first teeth are through (and you have breathed a sigh of relief), your baby may experience another difficult time around the age of one when their molars come through. Molars can cause significant discomfort and pain because they are situated at the back of the mouth and are the largest of all the teeth.
Teething is often a painful and unsettling time for your baby and new teeth can explain why your baby is discontent and apparently unwell. Parents generally accept that teething can be difficult, but they also want to know how long this phase will last and what remedies exist that will assist babies in distress caused by teething.
Read on to understand more about this important but so often frustrating step in your child’s development:
Please refer to the timeline below for a general guide as to when your baby’s teeth will emerge.
As you can see from the timeline, your baby will have new teeth emerging over the course of about two years. It’s important to note that while your child will keep growing new teeth during this period, they won’t actually be teething the entire time.
But what is teething? Teething refers to the process by which the tooth cuts through the gums into the mouth. However, the pain and discomfort associated with teething often occurs before you can actually see the tooth cut through the gum.
Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions we are asked when it comes to teething:
If your baby’s gums are swollen and you can feel a tooth beginning to erupt underneath, it is most likely normal swelling and it should go down after the tooth cuts through (this usually takes 1-7 days per tooth). If you notice abnormal swelling (red or blue coloured gums or no appearance of a tooth erupting underneath) or sores on your baby’s gums, contact your paediatrician.
There is no exact answer as to how long it takes for the first tooth to cut through, however estimates are anytime between 1-7 days per tooth. Sometimes babies can grow multiple teeth at once, so it may seem like teething is taking a lot longer.
Drooling and chewing on hands and objects is normal as your baby grows, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that your baby is teething. Often, parents confuse the increase of salivary production (at around 3 months old) with teething, however, the only sure indication of teething is when you can actually see or feel the emerging teeth.
In short, no. Research has found that there is no significant association between teething and an increase in a baby’s temperature. Rather, the reason that fever is so commonly attributed to teething is due to the fact that the start of the teething period (generally 6 months old) coincides with the time that babies start to get more infections, as there is a decrease in antibodies that they receive from their mother.
Teething may cause your baby discomfort and irritation which could lead to periods of wakefulness during the night. However, if your baby doesn’t appear affected by teething discomfort during the day, the wakefulness at night may not be the result of teething.
Other reasons for disturbed sleep could be the new skills that your baby is learning such as rolling over and sitting up, which he or she may be practicing at night without being able to settle down again.
Yes, however, the change in your baby’s appetite occurs due to the discomfort of teething. Your child’s gums will become sore and inflamed as a tooth pushes through, which can make your baby’s mouth start to hurt. This discomfort is ultimately what may turn your baby off eating.
Teething only causes irritation around the time your baby’s tooth is about to break through the gum. Teething pain generally lasts for only a couple of days, so longer periods of discomfort (commonly associated with teething) may be caused by something else.
It should also be remembered that your baby has 20 milk teeth that will emerge over 2 years, and these will all cut through at different times, which may make it seem like the pain and irritability can last for months.
Current medical opinion is that there is no evidence of a link between teething and problems with the alimentary tract. The most likely reason is that teething children are prone to pick up and chew on bacteria ridden objects that ultimately cause diarrhea. Remember, the teething phase coincides with the time period that babies are most susceptible to infections.
For most toddlers, symptoms of teething are quite minor and infrequent. The pain of teething tends to last for a few days, but if multiple teeth come through simultaneously, the pain can continue for longer.
The range of symptoms and their severity varies between babies; your baby may cut teeth with no complaints at all or teething may bring lots of pain and tears for your bub.
If symptoms of teething last for longer than a few days with no sign of a tooth, it’s possible that your baby’s pain and distress may be due to other causes.
If your baby is teething, you may notice:
Quite a few methods will soothe the painful gums of your teething baby, before you turn to pain relief products and teething gels, those are:
Here are some suggestions from members of the Bellamy’s community on how to treat teething:
Teething gels can offer some relief from the pain of teething because they contain local anaesthetic and antiseptic. Applying a small amount of teething gel to your baby’s sore gums may help, but it is important to use a gel that does not contain sugar, alcohol or aspirin. If you are still breastfeeding your baby, do not apply teething gel beforehand as sucking can be more difficult for your baby if their tongue is numb.
If your baby is over one month of age, you can give them the appropriate dose of infant paracetamol. Or if your baby is over three months of age, you can give them the appropriate dose of infant ibuprofen. Make sure you do not combine these two types of medicine. You should always seek advice from your health professional or your trusted local pharmacist.
Should you be unsure your baby is teething or whether there is another cause of your baby’s distress, it is worth taking him or her to the doctor. Sometimes ear infections are confused for teething.
Many parents will recognise symptoms such as fever, diarrhea and irritability in their baby and immediately put it down to teething. However, many symptoms thought to be caused by teething may actually be due to another illness or normal developmental changes in your baby.
For instance, a baby’s salivary glands will begin to increase production at around 3 months old, but they won’t possess the ability to move the saliva to the back of their mouth and swallow it until around 15 months old. Therefore, a lot of dribbling and drooling can occur around the 3 month mark which is often confused with teething.
Along with this, as babies develop control over their arm movements they will begin to pick up anything within reach and suck and chew on objects or fingers as part of a normal developmental response.
Epstein pearls are whitish-yellow bumps that occur on the roof of the mouth of about 80% of newborns. As they can look like emerging teeth they are often confused with teething, however they should disappear within 1-2 weeks of birth.
Even before you can see your baby’s first tooth it’s a good idea to get into the habit of wiping their gums with gauze or a soft wet washcloth during bath time. The easiest way to wipe your baby’s gums is to wrap the gauze or washcloth around your index finger and rub gently over their gums. Bacteria in the mouth usually can’t harm the gums before the baby teeth emerge, but it can be hard to tell when the teeth are starting to push through, so you’ll want to start early. Getting your baby used to having their mouth cleaned as part of their daily routine should make it easier to transition into tooth brushing later on, too.
Once baby’s tooth has fully emerged it’s time to start looking after their new teeth. Baby-suitable toothpaste should be used from the time the first tooth appears. Toothpaste that is specifically designed for babies (not children or adults) ensures the appropriate amount of fluoride is provided and they are not as abrasive. As your baby’s teeth start to appear, look for a baby toothbrush with a small head and grip suitable for your hand. Use a tiny amount of babies’ toothpaste. A dot the size of a grain of rice or a thin smear is all you need. Twice a day, gently brush on the inside and outside of each of your baby’s teeth to dislodge bacteria that can cause bad breath. Replace the toothbrush as soon as the bristles start to look worn or splayed.
The appearance of your baby’s first teeth may be a painful experience but it is also a momentous time. Your teething baby will need plenty of love and lots of cuddles as their new pearly whites push through their little gums.
How did you get through your baby’s teething phase? Share your suggestions with us below.