Your baby’s first year of life is full of exciting milestones, from their first smile to their first step. At some point during this year, you’ll probably notice your baby’s first pearly whites appearing in their adorable gummy smile. While these new teeth can be exciting, the teething process may be a bit uncomfortable for both parents and babies. Keep reading to learn about teething, including common baby teething symptoms and how to manage them.
When Do Babies Start Teething?
At birth, babies are typically born with all 20 of their baby teeth. These teeth are located beneath the gum line. Teething happens when your baby’s teeth first emerge through their gums.
Most babies start teething when they’re around six months old. However, it’s important to remember that every baby is different, and the timing of teething can vary. Some babies get their first tooth a little earlier, while others might not get their first tooth until after their first birthday.
If your baby hasn’t started teething by the time they’re around nine months old, talk to a pediatrician or pediatric dentist. While a delayed start to teething isn’t typically a cause for concern, it may sometimes be caused by certain medical or dental conditions.
Teething Signs & Symptoms
Teething signs and symptoms can vary. For some babies, the first teeth may emerge without any pain or discomfort. For other babies, the process can be a bit more uncomfortable. Some signs baby is teething may include:
- Sore, red gums in the area around the emerging tooth.
- Low-grade fever temperature of less than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
- A flushed cheek.
- Increased fussiness and crying.
- Changes in sleeping patterns.
- Gnawing or chewing on hard objects.
When to Call Your Pediatrician
If your baby is very uncomfortable during teething, call your pediatrician. They may suggest ways to soothe your baby. Also, call your pediatrician if your baby has a temperature over 100.4 degrees, a rash, or diarrhea. These symptoms aren’t typical signs of teething and could mean they have an illness that requires treatment.
Primary Teeth Development Chart
Once your child’s first deciduous or baby tooth has made an appearance, you may wonder when the rest will arrive. While the timing can vary, baby teeth appear in a fairly predictable order. Looking at a baby teeth chart can help you monitor your baby’s development and see if they’re on track.
The lower central incisors (bottom front teeth) are generally the first teeth to appear. The upper central incisors (upper front teeth) tend to come in next, followed by the pair of teeth on either side of the front teeth (upper lateral incisors). Next, your baby may get their lower lateral incisors, which are the pair of teeth on either side of their bottom front teeth. Your child may have all of these teeth by their first birthday.
As your child gets a bit older, more teeth should appear. The first molars (back teeth) generally come in next, followed by the pointed canine teeth. The last baby teeth, the second molars, generally appear in the back of the mouth when children are around 20 to 30 months old.
How to Soothe a Teething Baby?
The teething process can be difficult for you and your baby, but there are many ways to ease their discomfort.
Massage Your Baby’s Gums
When your baby’s teeth begin to emerge through their gums, the gum tissue may be sore or tender. Gently rubbing their gums with a clean finger provides counter pressure that may help relieve the pressure from the emerging tooth. A cooling sensation may also be soothing, so you may consider rubbing your baby’s gums with wet gauze or a cool spoon.
Try a Teething Ring
When infants have teething pain, they may have an urge to chew on something hard. Offering a teething ring may be helpful. For safer chewing, look for a firm rubber teething ring with no small parts. Teething rings made of plastic, have small parts, or are filled with liquid could pose a potential choking hazard.
Use Pain Medicine, As Directed
Talk to your baby's pediatrician or pediatric dentist if gum massages and teething rings aren’t enough. They may recommend a weight-appropriate dose of over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen. The Food and Drug Administration warns parents to avoid numbing medications that are rubbed on the gums. These medications offer little benefit for teething pain because they wash away quickly and may cause serious side effects.
Baby Dental Care
Baby dental care starts long before the arrival of their first tooth. Starting the first few days after birth, gently wipe their gums at least once a day with a moist piece of gauze. This helps brush away bacteria and set the stage for good oral care habits.
You may wonder when to start brushing baby teeth and when to use toothpaste. Baby teeth can be brushed with toothpaste as soon as the first tooth makes its appearance. Just like your teeth, your baby’s teeth need to be brushed twice per day (morning and night). However, it’s important to use toothpaste and a toothbrush that is meant for babies.
When shopping for your baby’s first toothpaste, look for a fluoridated baby toothpaste. These products are designed specifically for young children, who tend to prefer milder flavors than adults. Baby toothpaste may be available in a wide variety of fruity, child-friendly flavors, such as watermelon, strawberry, or banana. It may take some trial and error to find a flavor your baby likes.
Use a very small amount of toothpaste when brushing your baby’s teeth. A smear of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice is all you need. The fluoride in baby toothpaste can help prevent cavities by strengthening the outer surface of the teeth, but it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Excess fluoride can leave white spots or other visible changes on the surface of children’s developing teeth.
When can babies use toothpaste in a larger quantity? Keep brushing with just a smear of toothpaste until your child turns three. For children older than three, you can start using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
For your child’s first toothbrush, look for a baby toothbrush. Baby toothbrushes have small heads that are designed to fit comfortably in infants’ mouths. They may also have wide, non-slip handles to make it easier for you to hold the brush.
The ADA recommends choosing a toothbrush with soft bristles. Compared to toothbrushes with harder bristles, they’re gentler on the gum tissue. This can help reduce the risk of gum abrasions and other gum injuries.
When Should You Take Your Child to the Dentist?
Once your baby starts teething, you may wonder: When do babies go to the dentist? The ADA recommends scheduling your baby’s first dental visit after their first baby tooth arrives. However, this first visit should happen no later than their first birthday, even if they have no teeth yet.
What Happens at a Baby’s First Dental Visit?
Your baby’s first dental visit may last around 30 to 45 minutes. The dentist may ask you to sit in the dental chair and hold your baby in your lap. This can help keep them comfortable during the appointment.
The dentist may examine your child to make sure their teeth are developing properly. They may examine other parts of the mouth, such as the gums and oral tissues. Cavities can develop as soon as the first teeth appear, so the dentist may check your child’s new teeth for signs of decay. If necessary, the dentist may perform a gentle cleaning to remove plaque and tartar from the new teeth.
This first appointment is also an opportunity for parents to learn about baby teeth care. The dentist can provide tips about caring for your child’s teeth and answer questions you may have about how to brush properly or how to manage teething symptoms. They can also provide information about how habits like thumb sucking or using a pacifier could affect your baby’s dental health.
How Often Should Babies See a Dentist?
As a general rule, children need to see a dentist once every six months, just like adults. However, your pediatric dentist may recommend more or less frequent visits based on your baby’s oral health needs.
Find a Pediatric Dentist Near You
Is your baby ready for their first dental visit and you're asking where to find a trusted pediatric dentist near me. The Smile Generation makes it easy to find pediatric dentists in your area. You can use our Find a Dentist tool to search for local pediatric dental offices. You can read dentists’ bios and check out reviews from other patients, and when you find the right dentist for your child, you can book your first appointment online.