Everything you need to know about baby teething
Babies’ teeth start to develop in the womb, long before the baby is born. Most babies’ first teeth start to show, or “erupt”, between 4 and 7 months of age in a process known as teething.
The first teeth to appear are the two bottom incisors – the teeth at the front of the mouth – and these are followed closely by the top two incisors directly above. Next come the molars at the back of the mouth.
By the age of three your child will have all 20 baby teeth. Children start losing their baby teeth around the age of six, although in some children (usually girls) it can be earlier and in others later.
Many babies experience some discomfort during teething and can understandably become irritable when new teeth break through their gums.
It’s important to remember that your baby’s first teeth are just as important as their permanent teeth.
This is because they help your baby to learn to chew, speak properly and most crucially, these teeth reserve the space in their gums for the eruption of permanent teeth.
What are the signs and symptoms?
You can determine whether your baby is teething by the following signs:
- Frequent crying and crankiness
- A mild fever
- Reddened cheeks and drooling
- Loss of appetite
- Mild diarrhea
- Sucking on toys
- Pulling the ear on the same side as the erupting tooth
It is extremely important not to ignore symptoms such as fever and diarrhea in your baby. If these symptoms occur, seek medical advice to eliminate other reasons for the symptoms.
How can I help to relieve my baby’s teething discomfort?
To help minimise your baby’s discomfort try the following:
- Wash your hands and gently rub your baby’s gums with a clean finger;
- Give your baby a teething ring or wet washcloth to bite. The rings can be chilled in the fridge (not the freezer) before being used to help manage discomfort associated with teething;
- Give your baby unsweetened rusks to chew on.
- Cold foods like yoghurt may also provide relief.
- Rubbing a numbing gel onto the gums is a good option, but always consult with your GP or dentist before using any such preparation in the mouth.
If a facial rash bas been caused by drooling, you can protect the skin from further irritation by gently wiping the skin with a soft, wet, cotton cloth and smoothing some petroleum jelly onto the affected area at night or when your child is napping.
If at any time throughout the teething process you are worried about particular signs or symptoms or you think something may not be right, don’t hesitate to seek advice from your dentist as to appropriate treatment remedies. We recommend that you start bringing your child to the dentist when his or her first teeth start to appear.
Contact your dentist or local chemist for advice before using any pain relief specifically created for babies.