There is so much to look forward to when a baby is born. Like many new parents, you may anxiously watch your baby and hope that he is right on schedule with all the important milestones: Sleeping all night, smiling and rolling over. Another breakthrough — pun intended — that parents eagerly anticipate is baby's first tooth. The preoccupying question is "When do babies start teething?"
Signs of Teething
Crankiness, biting, drooling and loss of appetite are good signs that your baby is teething. Your little one might also have swollen gums and a little trouble sleeping. The American Dental Association (ADA) states that fever and diarrhea are not associated with teething, and if your baby experiences either, you should call your pediatrician. Remember that a baby's immune system is not fully developed at this time of life. Babies put anything and everything, clean or dirty, in their mouths, so they are at risk of picking up bacteria and viruses that cause sickness.
Helping with Discomfort
If you're lucky, teething will be a breeze for you and your baby. For babies that show signs of discomfort, there are some dos and don'ts recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a safety announcement in 2011 that discourages the use of topical gels and liquids because of a toxicity risk for children 2 years old and younger. Another old-school remedy discouraged by the AAPD is giving the baby a pacifier that has been dipped in sugar or honey.
Don't worry; there are plenty of simple, effective remedies that are recommended. Try giving your baby a clean teething ring, a cold wet washcloth or a chilled pacifier. Keep a stockpile in the freezer so that you'll always have one ready. Age-appropriate cold foods such as ice pops and frozen fruits work well, and a gum massage makes your baby's sore gums feel better. If your little guy is really having a tough time, you may want to check with your pediatrician about using an over-the-counter medicine for babies. Best advice: See what works best for your baby.
You've probably been looking for signs of a little white tooth from the time of your baby's very first drool. It's the two bottom front teeth that debut initially, usually when the baby is around 6 months old. However, no two babies are alike; your baby's first tooth could appear at 5 months or as late as 12 months. So, the real answer to the question "When do babies start teething?" is "Anytime they want to."
Now that a couple of teeth have popped through, on schedule or not, you may wonder when you can expect to see more. According to the ADA, the two upper front teeth erupt next, sometime between 9 and 13 months. By 13 to 16 months, many babies have four teeth on the bottom and four on top. The remaining baby teeth — cuspids and molars — should push their way through by the time your child is 2 to 3 years old. This is a long process, but when it's over, your little one will have welcomed 20 baby teeth into his mouth. Chew away!
Importance of Baby Teeth
Many parents feel that baby teeth are not important because they will eventually be replaced by permanent teeth. However, this is exactly why baby teeth are important. In addition to giving him a beautiful smile and helping him learn to speak and to chew nutritious meals, these 20 pearly whites hold the necessary space for the permanent teeth to position themselves correctly in his mouth.
The importance of caring for your baby's teeth and gums from the beginning and of starting dental visits early cannot be stressed enough. Your child will be about 12 years old before his last baby tooth is lost. Isn't it shocking to think that, when your child finally gets through this teething routine, he'll be starting his teen years!