It’s a momentous occasion for any parent when a child gets their first tooth. Suddenly, your little bundle of joy looks more like a ‘grown-up’! But what can you expect, and what do you need to do when this big milestone occurs?
When Do Babies Start Getting Teeth?
Most babies will get their first teeth around six months old, but it’s normal for some to get them as early as three months or late as 12 months. On average, boys tend to get their teeth done a bit later than girls. Boys usually get their first tooth between 7 and 10 months, while girls usually start teething closer to 6 months.
You’ll usually notice the bottom front teeth (central incisors) peeking through first, followed closely by the top front teeth (upper central incisors). This order of eruption generally continues around the rest of the mouth until all 20 baby teeth have made an appearance. Children usually have their full 20 primary teeth by age three. However, the primary teeth start to fall out between ages six and seven as the permanent teeth come in.
What To Expect
Teething can be a trying time for both babies and parents alike. Some babies seem to go through it with very little discomfort. In contrast, others experience more extensive discomfort and may even have trouble sleeping or eating. It might be intimidating if this is your first time experiencing teething with your baby. Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to tell how your baby will react to teething.
Some common symptoms that may occur during teething include:
- Drooling more than usual
- Crying or being fussy
- Putting everything in their mouth
- Biting or gnawing on solid objects
- Chewing on their fingers or fist
- Pulling on their ear(s)
- Having a low-grade fever
- Loss of appetite
- Rubbing their cheek(s) often
- Swelling around the gumline where the tooth is coming in
- Rash around the mouth caused by all the extra drooling
You can minimize your child’s discomfort by giving them something safe to chew on (e.g., a cold washcloth or teething toy) and providing plenty of hugs and cuddles for reassurance. Just remember that some of these symptoms may be due to something else, so if you are concerned, it is always best to talk to your pediatrician.
What You Should Do
Once your baby’s tooth has made its debut, you should visit their dentist to examine it and ensure it is healthy and properly positioned. At this appointment, your pediatric care services provider can give helpful tips and advice on keeping your baby’s teeth healthy. They will prescribe a type of toothpaste and brush that is best for young children. They will also check for cavities and answer any questions about teething.
It is also a good idea to start brushing the tooth twice daily with no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste (fluoride-free if your child is younger than two years old). And, of course, flossing should begin as soon as the teeth start touching.
Remember that you should start a child’s dental visit at around one year old or sooner if their first tooth appears earlier. This is because the earlier your child is introduced to the dentist, the more comfortable they will be. Regular check-ups will also help to keep your little one’s teeth healthy and strong!
What You Should Not Do
It is important to remember that teething gels should not be used on babies, as they contain an ingredient (benzocaine) that can be harmful if swallowed. You should also be aware not to tie teething necklaces or bracelets around the baby’s neck, as they can cause choking hazards. Finally, avoid giving your baby hard food items like nuts, popcorn, and carrots until at least six months old to help prevent choking.
Tips on How to Handle Teething
- Offer pain relief: You can give your baby cold foods such as frozen yogurt or popsicles to help soothe the gums and ease discomfort
- Give them something to chew on: You can also provide teething rings, pacifiers, or washcloths (dampened with warm water) for your baby to chew on
- Give them comforting contact: Cuddling and rocking your baby can help ease their discomfort
- Distract them with something fun: Playing with toys or reading books may help keep your baby distracted from the pain
- Monitor the situation: If your baby’s symptoms persist, contact your pediatrician, especially if they have a fever or are not eating.
The arrival of your child’s first tooth is an exciting time! Although it can be a bit trying for both baby and parent, knowing what to expect and being prepared can help make things go more smoothly. Be sure to keep an eye out for any severe symptoms, and contact your pediatrician immediately if you have any concerns. With a little patience and preparation, you’ll soon be enjoying those gummy smiles!