Teething is a common cause of discomfort in babies between the ages of 6 and 24 months. However, is teeth cutting as big a deal as some parents make it out to be?
We’ve brought you a list of science-based teething remedies as well as everything you need to know about infantile teeth cutting.
When Do Babies Teeth Start Coming In?
According to the American Dental Association, a baby’s primary teeth start to emerge when they are between the ages of 6 months and 1 year 1 mouthhealthy.org . Children are born with all 20 of their baby teeth below their gums. These teeth will slowly erupt until a child is about 3 years old. Check out the ADA’s primary tooth development chart to see the estimated time of emergence for baby teeth.
The first teeth to erupt are usually the lower incisors, or the bottom front teeth 2 mouthhealthy.org . Next up are the two top front teeth, or the upper incisors. After that, the lateral incisors and then the canines emerge. After that, little ones must deal with the eruption of their upper molars. These usually come in when babies are between the ages of 14 and 18 months. Finally, second molars come in when babies are between the ages of 25 and 33 months. All of your baby’s teeth should be in place by the time they are 30 months old.
With all that said, every child is different. Some children are born with teeth, while some grow teeth in the weeks following birth. Be on the lookout for the tell-tale signs of teething, you just never know when your child’s pearly whites are going to surface!
Signs Your Baby May Be Teething
Researchers have found that infants experience a wide range of symptoms caused by teeth eruption. However, in a recent study, no more than 35% of teething infants experienced the same symptoms 3 pubmed.gov . That means that each child’s response to tooth emergence is going to be slightly different. The most common teething symptoms include:
- Crying/Irritability: Babies often whine to let their parents know they need something. However, a teething baby may fuss even when their most obvious needs are met.
- Red swollen gums: Take a look inside your little one’s mouth. An obvious sign of teething is red or inflamed gums.
- Wakefulness: The pain from teething often keeps little ones up at night. While pain and discomfort may cause your child to wake more regularly, you mustn’t play a part in disrupting their sleep schedule.
- Biting/Gnawing: Has your baby developed an unrelenting case of pica? Their sudden preference to chew on everything in sight (including mom and dad) may be a sign that they are cutting teeth.
- Drooling: Teething can sometimes send the saliva glands into overdrive. If you notice your child’s mouth, cheeks, chin, and neck are constantly moist, take care to wipe them down regularly.
- Facial Rash: Teeth rashes may develop when excess saliva is left to dry on a baby’s skin 4 healthline.com .
- Decreased appetite: One of the most common side effects of teething is a loss of appetite. Many babies avoid solid, acidic foods when the inside of their mouths are feeling sore.
- Coughing: An overload of saliva and mucus can cause a baby to develop a slight cough.
- Ear Pulling: Scientists have yet to find a correlation between ear tugging and teething. However, many parents say their children develop this sort of habit when they are cutting teeth. It’s important that parents contact their pediatrician when they witness their child tugging at their ears, as this is also a symptom of ear infections.
- Gum Rubbing: If your baby is constantly pulling at their gums, there’s a good chance it has to do with tooth eruption.
- Sucking: Sucking is yet another common side effect of teething. Babies may even become more fixated with their pacifiers or thumbs during teething.
Many people also falsely like diarrhea, vomiting, and low-grade fevers with tooth emergence. However, these side effects are not related. You should consult your child’s pediatrician if they experience symptoms other than the ones listed above.
7 Tips for Soothing a Teething Baby
Tooth eruption takes about eight days from start to finish 5 betterhealth.vic.gov.au . With 20 teeth in the mouth, that equates to nearly 160 days of potential discomfort. However, it is worth noting that teeth usually emerge in pairs. Some babies are even born with one or more teeth already in their mouths!
You’ll find seven tips for soothing a teething baby below.
1. Offer Them Teething Ring/Toys
Teeth rings and toys are excellent tools for soothing sore gums. Teething rings and toys are safe, clean items that are designed to handle repetitive chewing and gnawing. Make sure to choose a teething ring that is free from BPA, phthalates, lead, and other dangerous chemicals. While many parents freeze their little ones’ teething rings, doctors say that frozen teething toys could cause a baby to develop frostbite.
What’s more, due to expansion, the liquid-filled teething rings are more likely to break apart when they are frozen. According to MedlinePlus, parents should give their baby a solid teething toy or a cold apple rather than a liquid-filled teething ring.
2. Cool Baby Down with a Cold SpoonTeeth rashes may develop when excess saliva is left to dry on a baby’s skin
A cool (though not frozen) metal spoon can be applied directly to a baby’s sore gums for nearly instant pain relief. The cool metal surface will numb your child’s sore gums, giving you and them a brief period of reprieve.
3. Massage Their Gums
Don’t underestimate the power of a gentle gum massage. Wash your hands. Then, run your fingers over your little one’s gums. You may also use a moist washcloth or piece of wet gauze to gently massage your baby’s sore spots. The pressure from your hands should help take away from the pressure of the emerging teeth, enabling your little one to soak in a moment of relief.
4. Try Teething Biscuits
Due to the inherent risks of decay, some dentists do not advise parents to give their babies teething biscuits. With that said, children between the ages of 8 and 12 months may benefit from teething biscuits. Just be sure to supervise your child when they are chewing on teething biscuits, as these items can break apart to become choking hazards.
4. Frozen Washcloth Work
Frozen washcloths make excellent teething toys. Let your little one chew on the chilled cloth. The cool surface will numb their inflamed gums. The soft, textured surface will alleviate the pressure of emerging teeth. Just be sure to cleanse your washcloths in a detergent that is free from fragrances, allergens, dyes, and brighteners.
5. Keep Foods Cool
Freeze little pieces of fruit inside a mesh feeder. The mesh cloth will prevent your child from choking on large chunks of food. Meanwhile, the frozen fruit will help numb your little one’s sore gums while providing them with delicious nourishment.
Chilled mashed vegetables and fruits, pureed meats, and yogurt are also great options for teething babies with reduced appetites. Pureed foods are more forgiving to sore gums, as they do not require chewing.
6. Breast Milk Pops
Breast milk and formula pops are excellent options for babies that struggle to nurse or eat when they are teething. The coolness of the popsicles helps numb the surface of little ones’ mouths while providing them with essential vitamins and nutrients. If the baby is old enough to be consuming solids, you can also try mixing in some fruit or vegetables if your child has graduated to eating solids.
Experts suggest that parents wait until their children are at least 9 months old before giving them breastmilk or formula popsicles.
7. Over-the-Counter Pain Medication
If your child is especially upset over their sore gums, you may give them over-the-counter pain medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
How Not to Soothe Sore Gums
Let’s clear up some of the common misconceptions that surround teething remedies.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), parents should steer clear of homeopathic teething tablets and gels 6 fda.gov . Many over-the-counter homeopathic teething products have been found to contain questionable and even dangerous ingredients.
The FDA has also advised against the use of over-the-counter teething gels and liquids that contain benzocaine 7 fda.gov . Benzocaine has been proven to cause rare and sometimes even fatal side effects. Parents may use FDA-approved teething gels sparingly on children over the age of 2.
Teething necklaces, including amber beads, should also be avoided. According to the FDA, these teething necklaces are neither safe nor effective. Children can choke on or even be strangled by jewelry 8 healthychildren.org . Retailers often claim that amber releases a pain-relieving chemical called succinic acid. However, scientists have yet to find any clinical evidence that suggests that amber relieves teething symptoms.
What’s more, never cut the surface of your child’s gums in an attempt to help a tooth come through. These actions will only lead to infection and further discomfort.
Finally, do not give your child aspirin. Never place pain killers directly on your child’s gums.
Caring for Baby’s New Teeth
Parents often overlook the importance of primary teeth. However, these placeholders play a significant role in a baby’s overall dental health. You can stay ahead of decay by wiping your child’s gums down after feedings and before bed. Of course, brush your little one’s teeth twice daily with a soft toothbrush and water as soon as their first tooth emerges. Speak with your child’s pediatrician about the best time to introduce fluoride toothpaste.
While it’s no fun watching a baby suffer as they cut their first teeth, it’s certainly an exciting milestone. We hope our tips for soothing sore gums help you and your baby get some relief! Don’t let teething overwhelm you! Before you know it, your little one’s first set of teeth will be falling out.