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Every baby is different, some babies will breeze through teething as though nothing is happening, and others will have obvious discomfort and show lots of signs and symptoms of teething.
Watching your baby experience many firsts is a wonderful experience for parents, although teething can be a tough phase for you and your little one to navigate. Every baby is different, some babies will breeze through teething as though nothing is happening, and others will have obvious discomfort and show lots of signs and symptoms of teething.
Your newborn is born with 20 baby teeth, all hidden in their gums. Teething occurs when your little one’s baby teeth start to grow and appear through their gums, also known as tooth eruption. Baby teeth are a normal part of development to help them with talking, eating and maintaining the space for permanent adult teeth in the future.
The age babies start getting teeth is varied, there is no normal age as all babies are different. Teeth can appear anywhere from birth to 27 months old, some babies are even born with a tooth visible. The most common age babies start to get teeth is 6 -10 months old. By the age of 3 they should have a full set of 20 baby teeth, 10 on the top and 10 on the bottom. Teething usually goes for around 7 days per tooth. Your little one can show signs or symptoms of teething four days prior to and three days after the tooth comes through the gum.
Every baby displays different signs and symptoms of teething, but most act more irritable and unsettled than normal. Teething signs include:
Crying, cranky and restless
Sucking on their hand, objects or toys
Increased dirty nappies
Dribbling due to extra saliva produced. It is important to dry any drool around their mouth and chin to prevent drool rash (irritation caused by saliva)
Not feeding or eating as well as normal
Pulling at their ear (often the same side as the tooth that is coming through)
Red swollen gums and flushed cheeks
A bubble on the gum where the tooth is about to erupt, known as an eruption cyst
Teething should not cause fevers but may cause your baby to have a slight increase in body temperature. You can monitor your little one’s temperature with a thermometer. A fever is a temperature over 38 degrees and should always be medically investigated and not put down to teething.
It is normal for your baby to experience some discomfort while teething. You can try different teething remedies to see what works for them, and commonly your baby will want lots of extra cuddles and kisses from you. The discomfort will ease once the tooth appears through the gum.
Massage your little one’s gums by gently rubbing with a clean finger or cold wash cloth.
Give baby safe items to chew on such as ateething ring
or toothbrush. Chilled teething rings can provide relief on their gums due to the cold temperature.
If your baby is over six months old, and has begun solids, you can give them crusts of bread or un-sweetened teething rusks to suck and chew on to help relieve discomfort.
Pain-relieving medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, with consultation with GP or child health nurse, can assist to relieve pain for your baby. Natural teething gels also contain some pain-relieving agents.
Teething necklaces are not recommended due to choking and strangulation risks.
Certain gels and teething tablets (depending on ingredients), always consult a healthcare professional before use.
Baby teeth can arrive in any order, but the bottom central teeth are often the first to be visible. See baby teeth chart below from Raising Children’s Network
Central incisors: 6- 10 months
Lateral incisors: 10- 16 months
Canine: 17- 23 months
First baby molar: 14- 18 months
Second baby molar: 23- 31 months
For babies, it is a great habit to start cleaning their gums before any teeth appear. Around 3 months old, you can start wiping your baby’s gums with a damp cloth twice a day. This will start getting them ready for tooth brushing when their first few teeth appear. As soon as your little one’s first tooth appears you can start cleaning them with a soft infant toothbrush twice a day, with water only. If your baby doesn’t like the toothbrush in their mouth you can continue using a damp cloth to wipe the front and back of their tooth.
Toothpaste shouldn’t be used until baby is over 18 months old. After 18 months, you can start to use a small amount of toothpaste and then at 6 years old, your child can use standard strength fluoride toothpaste (if you choose). When using toothpaste, always encourage your child to spit it out and not to swallow it. Make teeth brushing time fun, even a quick attempt at teeth brushing is better than nothing, this way your child learns it is a part of normal daily routine. Aim to brush teeth for two minutes, play a song or use a timer so your little one knows how long to brush for. Children need your help with brushing their teeth until they are around 8 years old.
As well as tooth brushing, preventing tooth decay through a healthy diet is equally important. After 6 months old, and when they are showing ready signs, your baby can start drinking water and eating solids. During this time, avoid giving your baby any food or drinks high in sugar.
In regard to seeing a dentist, it is recommended to take your baby to the dentist any time after their first tooth appears, or around 12-24 months old. Visits to the dentist support good oral health habits, help minimise tooth decay and ensure their gums and teeth are healthy. Taking your little ones regularly to the dentist will help them form familiarity with the environment and be an expected part of your child’s life.
Take them with you to your own dentist appointments before their own visit so they become familiar with the environment.
Visit a paediatric dentist that specialises in caring for children.
Sit in the dentist chair with them on your lap to provide them extra comfort.
Bring their favourite toy along or their comforter to help keep them calm.
Check-in with your own emotions, try to stay calm and positive for your little one, if you are anxious they may sense it.
Chat with your GP or early childhood nurse about specific teething questions for your little one. It’s important to remember that any change in behaviour should not be automatically put down to teething and may require medical attention.
Blog is written by Aliza Carr from Bumpnbub.
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