Any parent will tell you there are many reasons why babies cry. Some of the most common ones are hunger, gas or the need to change their diaper. Teething is another cause of crying. Parents who have experienced their babies' teething will confirm that it's not always a fun experience. If you're a first-time parent going through this with your little one, you may be wondering how long teething lasts.
Teeth are important for a number of reasons: they help you speak, smile, and chew, explains the American Dental Association (ADA). As the ADA also points out, a typical person has 20 baby teeth at birth. The upper and lower teeth consist of central and lateral incisors, canines, and first and second molars. Tooth eruption in a baby can start at around six months of age with the lower central incisors showing first. They're followed by the upper central incisors at as early as eight months of age, and the upper lateral incisors at nine months. The lower lateral incisors arrive just after, at ten months of age.
The remaining teeth tend to erupt in the following order: upper and lower first molars between 13 and 14 months, upper and lower canines between 16 and 17 months, and upper and lower second molars between 23 and 25 months. Keep in mind that no two babies are alike – some will start teething early, while others will start later.
If you suspect your baby may be teething, watch out for some familiar signs:
- Fussiness: Teething pain in an otherwise healthy baby can leave your bundle of joy irritable and cranky.
- Trouble sleeping: A change in sleeping patterns, such as waking up multiple times during the night or refusing to nap, can indicate teething discomfort.
- Drooling: When a baby puts everything in his or her mouth, that's a sign of possible tooth eruption. It's typically accompanied by increased drool production.
- Decreased appetite: Even babies who have wonderful appetites may desire less milk as the nursing and bottle-sucking actions can irritate already tender gums.
No parent wants to see their baby suffer from teething pain. There are a handful of remedies you can try to alleviate the pain. The obvious one is to give your baby a cold teething ring or a cold compress to chew. You can also try rubbing his gums with a clean finger to relieve the pain. A warm bath followed by a rocking motion can help to soothe them as well. Consult with your baby's paediatrician before trying an over-the-counter pain reliever.
So, how long does teething last exactly? This is hard to predict as every child is different. You could be implementing these relief measures for some time.
Baby teeth don't need to be brushed until they've erupted completely. Instead, prepare the gums by wiping them with a square gauze to adequately remove plaque. Do that twice per day, especially after meals and before bed.
When it's time to start brushing your baby's teeth, use a toothbrush with extra soft bristles for gentle, yet effective cleaning. The toothbrush head should be specially sized for small children whose teeth are still developing.
It's important to start a foundation of good oral care at an early age. Developing brushing habits in your children early on can lead to a lifetime of oral health. That means brushing at least twice every day. Follow up the brushing with flossing to clean those hard-to-reach areas. And remember to schedule regular cleanings with your dentist to ensure a clean bill of mouth health.