Teething may be occasionally uncomfortable for babies, but it's an exciting time for parents. According to the National Library of Medicine's Medline Plus site, a baby will start teething at around six months old, but don't worry if they don't appear right away. Some infants don't start teething until around eight months, and others when they are a bit older.
Once baby's first teeth start coming in, you can expect them to appear in a certain order (though this isn't always guaranteed). The two front teeth on the bottom row are usually first to appear, followed by the two front teeth on the top. The teeth on the sides of the bottom front teeth come in next, then the first molars and finally the two teeth next to the top front teeth. Your baby is likely to have all of his or her first set of teeth by the age of three, but knowing what to look for allows you to keep your little one comfortable when he has trouble adjusting.
Symptoms of Teething
Obviously, teething takes place before you'll see any physical signs of teeth. But you'll be able to tell that your baby is teething if he:
- drools a bit more than normal.
- wants to chew on hard objects.
- is cranky or irritable.
- gum swelling and tenderness.
- has problems sleeping.
Although a fussy baby is commonly associated with teething, not every infant feels pain or discomfort as his teeth come in. And, according to BabyCenter, it's unlikely that your child's teething will cause other problems such as high fever, diarrhea or vomiting. If your baby does develop any of these symptoms, take him to the doctor to rule out any separate issues.
Even if your child is as happy as a clam, there are a few things you can do to make him or her more comfortable as teeth start to come in. If teething has created an impressive drooler, regularly wipe the drool away from his face and lips using a clean, soft cloth. Letting the drool dry on the skin and lips can cause a rash.
Obviously, with the appearance of teeth comes the ability to consume harder foods. Help your baby develop great chewing skills by giving him objects to gnaw on. A classic rubber teething ring is a great pick, as is a carrot stick or pieces of apple. Learning to chew is an important skill to develop even before the teeth come in, according to Penelope Leach, PhD, author of "Your Baby and Child." Introduce foods that require some chewing ability early on, so that by the time your baby has all 20 primary teeth, he will know exactly what to do with them.
Always keep an eye on your kids while they chew on a hard object or piece of food. Once their teeth do start to come in, they may not know their own strength; prevent a choking hazard by making you sure you only give babies items that won't break off in their mouths.
Caring for the Teeth
A good dental health routine is important for gums and teeth. Before your baby's first teeth arrive, you can use a damp piece of gauze to wipe her gums clean. As soon as at least one tooth grows in, introduce him to a small, gentle toothbrush. Pick a toothbrush with soft bristles. You can brush his teeth with water at this point, or use a fluoride-free toothpaste such as My First Colgate® toothpaste. Get in the habit of brushing his teeth twice a day. Once your baby's teeth start to touch, you can get to flossing.
This is also the ideal time to schedule your baby's first visit to the dentist. The American Dental Association's Mouth Healthy site recommends having your baby see a dentist by the age of one. Let the first tooth that appears be a reminder to make that appointment.