Just like talking, walking and sleeping through the night, your little one will cut teeth on his or her own timeline. Infants are typically born with 20 primary teeth resting just beneath their gumlines, but when that first pearly white makes its appearance depends on various factors, such as heredity and timing of birth (preemies tend to be late teethers).
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), teeth generally start to emerge between the ages of six and 12 months. However, some babies may start teething at as early as three months, and others may not show signs until the age of 14 months. If your son or daughter is still all gums by the time he or she turns 18 months of age, consult his or her pediatrician or dentist.
Symtpoms and signs of teething
Teething symptoms may last for a few days or several months, depending on whether teeth emerge individually or in groups. A few fortunate kiddos may not exhibit any obvious signs of teething. For others, common signs may include:
- Fussiness or irritability
- Excessive drooling
- Sensitive and/or swollen gums
- Refusing foods
- Tugging on ears
- Rubbing the face
- Biting behaviors
- Difficulty sleeping
And, of course, you may actually see a tooth breaking through your baby’s gum.
Despite what you may have heard, diarrhea, fever and vomiting are not signs of teething. Contact your child’s pediatrician if he or she exhibits any of these symptoms.
How to soothe a teething baby
Until recently, many parents relied on over-the-counter products containing the anesthetic benzocaine to relieve teething pain and discomfort in babies. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers last month that benzocaine can cause methemoglobinemia, a potentially fatal blood disorder, and therefore “poses a serious risk to infants and children.”
Fortunately, there are many safe and effective remedies for helping alleviate teething pain:
- Give your babe something to gnaw on. Chewing on a cool, wet washcloth or teething ring can provide your wee one with immediate relief. Refrain from cooling teethers in the freezer as frozen teething rings can cause gum damage. Also, avoid teething rings with liquid or gel filling as these can burst and endanger your child.
- Serve up soft, cold foods. The chilly temperature of refrigerated foods, like applesauce and yogurt, may help relieve discomfort associated with teething. Just make sure to steer clear of hard foods, such as frozen bagels and bananas, which can thaw and become choking hazards.
- Give your infant a gum massage. Gently rub your son or daughter’s gums with a wet gauze pad or clean finger. The light pressure can help counteract the pressure related to teething. For additional relief, incorporate an analgesic teething oil, like Herbs For Kids Gum-omile Oil™.
- Try natural teething tablets. Homeopathic teething tablets can also help diminish teething pain. Just be sure they don’t contain belladonna as the FDA recently warned that tablets containing the toxic substance “pose an unnecessary risk to infants and children” and urged consumers to discontinue their use. We recommend Hyland's Baby Oral Pain Relief Tablets—free of belladonna, benzocaine, parabens and artificial flavors and dyes!
- Consider a pain reliever. When all else fails, your baby may benefit from a pain reliever like children’s acetaminophen, which can help reduce inflammation and ease discomfort. Note: Always contact your child’s pediatrician and check the dosage chart prior to administering any medications.