Although the exact timing of can vary from child to child, babies typically begin teething around 6 months of age. Usually the front bottom two teeth (lower central incisors) emerge first, accompanied by the front top two teeth (upper central incisors). Teething can be a painful and difficult process for both babies and parents, as infants may become especially fussy or cranky while their new teeth emerge. Quintessential signs and symptoms of teething include irritability or fussiness, drooling, chewing on firm solid objects, and sore or sensitive gums. Parents also commonly conclude that teething causes diarrhea and fever, but research has shown this to be untrue. Teething does produce signs and symptoms in the gums and mouth but does not generate constitutional or other extended bodily symptoms. In this baby dental topics article we cover stages of teething and helpful hints. Read more about other pediatric dental topics.
5 Stages of Teething In Children
Teething happens in 5 stages, lasts a significant amount of time, and can be very tough for both parents and infants to endure. Understanding what to expect during this difficult time, however, can help parents ease the discomfort of their baby as well as navigate their way successfully into toddlerhood.
The 5 stages of teething include:
Stage 1: (0-6 months) At birth, babies have a full set of 20 primary teeth in the jawbones beneath their gums. These are frequently referred to as “milk teeth,” because during this stage a baby’s diet usually consists of milk only.
Stage 2: (6-8 months) During this stage, the first teeth emerge. The lower and upper front teeth, the incisors, begin to erupt around 6 months, but signs and symptoms of pain or discomfort may become evident before 6 months. Prior to eruption, the uneven edges of the teeth may push against the gums, and the baby will typically start chewing on toys, hands, or other solid objects. Putting pressure on the gums alleviates pain and provides a distraction for babies, so make sure to give them appropriate chew items to ease their discomfort. There will likely be an obvious increase in drool during this times period, so keeping a small bib on the baby can make it easier to keep his/her chin dry. This will help keep a rash from forming around the baby’s mouth and chin, which can add to the discomfort.
Stage 3: (10-14 months) During this stage, the primary molars begin erupting. These teeth come in the back of the mouth in the lower and upper jaws. This stage is much like stage 2, but parents will notice an even more evident increase in drool, crankiness, and the need to chew on solid objects. During this time period, it is also common for babies to experience a bit of a loss of appetite, fever, and diarrhea. During stage 3, a baby’s sleep schedule may become more sporadic or get “off.” Unfortunately, it is typical for both babies and parents to lose sleep at night during this period of teething. If a baby’s pain seems to become overly severe or the baby seems to experience inordinate discomfort, consult the pediatrician for advised over-the-counter pain remedies.
Stage 4: (16-22 months) During this stage, the canine teeth (between the top and bottom molars and incisors) will surface. The same recommendations for stage 2 and 3 can be implemented during this period to keep the baby as comfortable as possible.
Stage 5: (25-33 months) For some children, this is the most painful stage of teething. During this time, the large molars emerge. These are the biggest teeth, and parents may find their normal soothing techniques are no longer effective. Try different methods to soothe the toddler until something helps. Many parents find it beneficial to give the toddler a hard vegetable to chew on, and this is also healthy. If implementing this method, make sure to keep a close eye on the child at all times to make sure he/she does not choke!
Helpful Hints For Soothing A Teething Baby
Some helpful hints for soothing a baby’s sensitive and sore gums include:
- Massaging a baby’s gums with a clean finger, damp washcloth, or clean dampened gauze pad. Providing this pressure to the gums can alleviate the baby’s pain.
- Providing a teething ring made of hard rubber. The liquid filled kind can break as the baby chews.
- Filling a bottle with water and allowing the baby to suck. Do not fill a bottle with milk or juice specifically to sooth teething. Extended contact with sugary liquids leads to tooth decay.
- Chilling a washcloth or teething ring for a baby to then chew on can also be very soothing. Do not freeze these items, however. Contact with objects that are too cold can cause harm to the gums and teeth.
- Giving the baby hard foods that are safe to chew on, if the baby is old enough to eat solid foods as part of his/her diet. Solid vegetables like a peeled and chilled cucumber or carrot can be helpful, but watch the baby closely, as pieces may break off and potentially become choking hazards.
- Drying the drool to keep the skin from becoming too irritated or a rash from forming. Keeping a clean dry bib or cloth under the baby’s chin can be helpful.
- Giving the baby over-the-counter remedies may alleviate pain as well. Before giving the baby any medicines, however, ask the pediatrician what is safe and appropriate for the child.
Read more on Infant Dental Topics
- Why Baby Teeth Are Important
- Five Stages of Teething and Helpful Hints
- Dental Hygiene for Babies and Toddlers
- Baby Bottle (Nursing) Tooth Decay
- Thumb Sucking and Pacifiers “Non-nutritive Sucking Habits”