Watching your baby's teeth develop is an exciting milestone, but it can also be an overwhelming time for a first-time parent. You may be worried that your baby's teeth aren't developing on schedule or that you don't know how to keep your little one comfortable during teething. These are normal worries for parents, but with a bit of preparation, you'll be ready for the arrival of your baby's first molar.
The first teeth to erupt are usually the two teeth in the front of your child's lower jaw, and their counterparts on the upper jaw erupt next. Then, the two front teeth – called the upper central incisors – make an appearance. The teeth on either side of the central incisors, called the lateral incisors, are the next to develop on both the upper and lower jaws. If your child already has some of these teeth, you may be wondering when the first molars are going to appear.
A baby's first molars will usually make an appearance when between 13 and 19 months old, according to the American Dental Association. However, every child is different, so don't worry too much if your child's first molars show up a bit early or a bit late. Late tooth eruption can run in families, so if your teeth didn't come in on schedule, your baby's teeth might be delayed, too. If you're worried that your baby's molars aren't erupting on time, visit a dentist to find out if it's cause for concern.
When your baby's first molars start to appear, you may notice some of the familiar signs of tooth eruption. You may notice drooling or a habit of trying to chew on hard objects. If you look at the gums, you may see that the tissue looks red and tender. These are signs that the molars are getting ready to make an appearance.
Since the first molars are larger than the incisors, this round of teething may be more uncomfortable for your baby, explains What to Expect. As the molars pass through the gums, your baby may become very cranky, even if he or she is normally easygoing. He or she may have trouble sleeping through the night and may refuse to eat. This can be very stressful for both you and your baby, but remember that this phase doesn't last long.
There are plenty of things you can do to keep your baby (and you) happier and more comfortable as the first molars erupt. Give your child a rubber teething ring to chew on. The pressure helps to ease gum pain. You can chill the teething ring in the refrigerator before you give it to your baby, but never freeze it. Frozen teething rings can injure your baby's delicate oral tissues and worsen the discomfort, explains the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Giving your baby a gum massage can also help ease pain. To perform a massage, simply rub the sore gums with your clean finger. This works by helping to counteract the pressure from the erupting first molar.
Cold foods and drinks can also help ease the pain of sore gums. If your baby will tolerate it, try filling his or her bottle with cold water to help numb the gums. Foods like chilled applesauce, yogurt or ice pops are also good choices. Since sugars can cause tooth decay, try to limit these cold foods to meal times, and brush your child's teeth afterward.
If your baby is very uncomfortable and you're having trouble soothing him or her, schedule a dental appointment. The dentist can examine your baby's mouth to determine if there are any issues that require treatment. He or she may be able to give you tips to keep your baby more comfortable.
Teething is a normal part of a baby's development, and in no time, your baby will have a full set of teeth.