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Teething: What to Expect

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Is your baby teething?

Learn what parents can expect during this time, and find tips on easing discomfort during teething.

In most cases, babies' teeth begin to appear at about six months of age, but it is normal for children's teeth to erupt at any point between three and twelve months of age.  It takes up to a few years for all 20 of a child's primary or "milk" teeth to erupt1.  If a child has not begun teething by fifteen to eighteen months, it's best to consult a physician.

Though some parents report no ill side effects when their children are teething, most children experience teething symptoms such as:

  • Problems sleeping
  • Refusing food
  • Irritability
  • Excessive drooling
  • Rubbing ears and cheeks

When a tooth erupts, an eruption cyst may develop.  This is normal and the cyst should be left alone, as the tooth will eventually rupture it as it pushes through the gum.  The above mentioned teething symptoms are normal, and should gradually improve.  If, however, these symptoms do not abate or your child develops a fever or diarrhea, it is best to contact his or her pediatrician.

There are a number of simple remedies parents can use to alleviate teething symptoms in babies.  Gently rubbing the irritated gums with a wet finger or gauze pad can often help.  If your child is eating solid foods, try feeding him or her something cold, which may soothe the gums.  Many dentists and pediatricians also recommend a clean teething ring or pacifier for teething children.  If your child seems to be in discomfort and these methods are not helping, you may try a mild pain reliever, but only after consulting with a physician.

When your baby's first teeth erupt, you should brush them with a soft, baby-sized toothbrush moistened with a little water.  Toothpaste is not recommended for children under two, and then it should only be used under supervision to make sure the child does not swallow toothpaste, which can cause an upset stomach.

Most pediatric dentists recommend that a child makes his or her first visit to the dentist roughly six months after the eruption of the first tooth, and no later than one year old.  This can help establish a good relationship between the child and the dentist, and pave the way for a lifetime of good oral hygiene.

1American Dental Association

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