When a child first starts teething, it can cause a lot of excitement and confusion at home for first time parents. What’s a normal age for a child to begin teething? What can parents do to help a fussy child experiencing teething pain? What are some of the symptoms of teething? These are all normal questions that first time parents have about the teething process.
To help you understand what your child goes through while teething, here are some answers to these and other common questions.
The term teething references the formation of new teeth as they begin to erupt through an infant’s gum line. While no set age marks when a child will start teething, some children begin the process when only two months old, even though the first tooth won’t generally erupt from the gum line until they near six months. For most children, teething will begin any time between the ages of three months to 12 months. By the time your child turns three, he or she should have developed all 20 primary teeth.
The first tooth to emerge is most often one of the lower, central incisors. From there, some children will begin to show a pattern to when a new tooth will begin to emerge, while others will have multiple teeth emerge at once. As a tooth begins to erupt from the gum line, the area surrounding the tooth may appear red or slight swollen. Occasionally a fluid filled sac, similar to a blister, may slightly cover the tooth as it erupts through the gums.
Symptoms of Teething
How a baby responds to teething depends on the child. Some babies may become fussier when teething, while others may show very little change in their behavior. If you notice your baby becoming a little crankier, it may be a sign that a new tooth is about to erupt. Your baby’s gums may develop swelling or soreness three to five days before a new tooth emerges. These symptoms generally fade once the tooth breaks through the gum line.
Some of your baby’s teeth may be more sensitive than others once they have formed. While the most sensitive tooth is usually the first one to emerge, babies can often experience discomfort when the larger back molars develop because their flat nature makes it more difficult for them to break through the gum line.
Occasionally babies will start biting on their toys and fingers while teething to reduce the pressure on the gums. A lot of babies start to drool excessively while teething, which can result in a rash forming on their chest, chin, or face. Some children may even refuse to eat or drink while teething due to the mouth pain they are experiencing.
These types of mild symptoms will generally go away within a day or two of the eruption of a new tooth. If your baby’s symptoms don’t go away, or become progressively worse, you may need to contact your pediatrician or dentist.
How to Help
While parents can only do so much to help easy any discomfort their child experiences while teething, there are a few tips parents can utilize to help their child feel better.
- Certain types of over-the-counter pain medication, such as Advil or Tylenol, are suitable for children over the age of 20 months. Make sure the label on any pain reliever you administer to a child says it’s safe for his or her age group. However, you should never administer aspirin to a child younger than 20 months, as it could cause Reye syndrome.
- Gently rub your baby’s gums with either a freshly washed finger or cold teething ring for roughly two minutes. While many babies may initially start fussing, most eventually find it soothing.
- Give your baby clean and safe objects to bite on, such as a teething ring.
In recent years, a number of gels designed to help easy a baby’s teething pain have hit the market. However, some questions remain about the effectiveness and safety of many of these types of products. Make sure to consult with your dentist or pediatrician prior to administering any type of soothing gel or ointment onto your baby’s gums
A freelance writer, Timothy Lemke blogs about preventative dental care for kids on the behalf of Dr. Jared Doman, a Longview WA dentist who can help new parents deal with a teething baby.