This article was last updated on May 20, 2022
One question that all mothers are very anxious to ask is that when will their baby’s first pearly white tooth start to appear? Most babies dig up their first tooth at the age of 6 months approximately, but your child’s chompers may appear as early as 3 months or as late as 14, depending on such factors as genes and whether or not your baby was a “preemie” (preemies tend to teethe on the late side). How babies go through their teething can differ in many ways also. Some babies have teething symptoms like excessive drooling and crankiness weeks before a tooth actually sprouts up, while others may not show any signs at all.
Normally, babies get their teeth in twos. First emerges the middle two on the bottom jaw and a month or so later, the two on the upper gums also arrive. Still, it’s not rare to see a baby with four bottom and no upper teeth, or the reverse. A general timeline for babies to sprout teeth is as follows:
6 months: lower central incisors
8 months: upper central incisors
10 months: lower and upper lateral incisors
14 months: first molars
18 months: canines
24 months: second molars
Signs of teething
Short of really seeing a tooth poking through, and specified that the process is different for every baby, some possible symptoms to watch for are:
There emerges a need for babies to gnaw on things. The pressure of a budding tooth beneath the gums may be comforted by counter pressure, so teething babies habitually want to chomp on things. The biting character may also be a reaction to the odd feeling that something’s going on in there.
Babies may start having puffy gums. Ahead of a new tooth erupting, it can cause a red, swollen, bruised-looking area on a baby’s gums. Sometimes the gum bulges with the emerging tooth, which you can see faintly beneath the skin (if you can convince your baby to open his mouth for long enough).
Another symptom common among babies is excessive drooling. Increased spittle can sign a new tooth but it’s also a regular developmental stage of infancy, so don’t presuppose that drooling means teething. It might be something else. There’s no way to tell whether your baby’s saliva is the result of teething or not.
Your child may suffer from irritation, especially at night. Tooth eruption when the tooth moves through the bone and gum comes in stages, with more movement at night than during the day, so your baby may be more irritable at that time.
Another common habit at that stage is ear pulling. While it can also be a sign of an ear infection, tugging can be a symptom of teething: The pain from the jaw gets transferred to the ear canal.
Your baby might have a transformation in eating habits. Babies who are having solids may want to nurse or bottle-feed more because a spoon irritates their inflamed gums. Others may do the opposite, eating more than usual because the counter pressure feels good. And babies who are still on the bottle or breast may begin feeding eagerly but pull back because the activity of sucking puts uncomfortable pressure on the gums and ear canals.
You may need to try a few methods to see what works best for your child:
A wet, frozen washcloth (leave one end dry so she can get a good grip) would relieve your baby of that excessive pain. The thick fabric feels good, and the icy cold numbs sore gums. A teething toy that’s been chilled in the refrigerator also works, but frozen toys may be too harsh on an infant’s sensitive gums.
If the tooth is still deep in the gum and hasn’t formed a painful bruise, counter pressure or friction where it’s about to erupt can work wonders. Try rubbing the area with your clean finger (bare or wrapped in a washcloth).
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