Each baby is uniquely different when it comes to developmental measures. For many babies, teeth will begin to emerge between 4 and 7 months of age. However, some babies may not get their teeth until they are 12 months old (or later) while others may begin to get their teeth as early as 3 months of age. Some babies are even born with teeth!
Once teeth begin to come in, they usually appear one or two at a time over the course of several months. Often (though certainly not always), a baby’s first two teeth are the bottom middle ones. They are followed by the top two middle teeth, the four front upper teeth, and the two teeth on either side of the middle bottom teeth. Back teeth usually come in next, followed by the eyeteeth. The process may seem endless, especially if teething is an unpleasant experience for your child. Most children have all 20 primary (baby) teeth by their third birthday.
For many babies, teething is uncomfortable and sometimes quite painful. When your child is teething, you can expect to see:
- gum swelling and sensitivity (sometimes lasting for weeks before teeth erupt)
- drooling (along with a facial rash)
- irritability and fussiness (lasting days or weeks)
- lack of appetite (due to swollen gums)
- sleep problems
- chewing and biting (Click here to learn how to stop your baby from biting while nursing)
It’s unclear whether teething causes fever, runny nose, or diarrhea. If your child has any of these symptoms, including a rectal temperature greater than 101°F (100.4°F if younger than 3 months old), contact her health care provider right away.
How can I ease teething pain?
Giving your child something to chew on can ease her discomfort. A clean, wet washcloth that has been placed in the freezer for a few minutes is a good option, or a firm rubber teething ring. If she is older than 6 months and eating complementary foods, your baby may enjoy cold foods such as applesauce or yogurt. Rubbing a clean finger gently across her gums may also provide temporary relief. If those tricks don’t work, a dose of children’s pain reliever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen (but never aspirin) may help. Check with your child’s health care provider before giving your child any medicine, even those available over-the-counter (without a prescription).
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings in 2016 and in 2017 against the use of homeopathic teething tablets, as well as against gels that contain benzocaine and lidocaine, and essential oils.