Although teeth can take a while to be seen, teething can begin at the fifth month, or sometimes earlier. Tooth eruption rate is hereditary so if you or your baby’s father had teeth come in early or late, this is a good indication of how your own baby’s teeth will come in.
If you’re unsure if your child is teething there are several ways to tell. Firstly your baby’s cheeks will appear swollen because of his inflamed gums and he will salivate a lot and develop a rash around his mouth because of the moisture on his chin. Secondly he will bite down forcefully on everything he can put in their mouth in an attempt to try and relieve the pressure caused by the teeth rising under the gums.
It will be more obvious that your baby is teething if they are in pain or grizzly, or uninterested in feeding, because sucking causes blood to move to the swollen area, making the area even more sensitive. Ear pulling and cheek rubbing are also common and teething can also cause babies to wake during the night.
Diarrhoea and fever are sometimes associated with teething but they are symptoms that could be confused with other conditions so it’s best to consult your child’s doctor. Many of these symptoms are similar to those of ear infections, which are common and will require medication to ease the symptoms.
By offering something for your baby to chew on such as a wet wash cloth or a solid silicone-based teething ring, they are able to produce a counterpressure that provides some respite. For babies who are in pain, medication and numbing gel that is prescribed by the doctor is ideal, as it helps to reduce infection. By rubbing a small amount directly on to your baby’s gum,he should feel numbness, which lasts for approximately twenty minutes. However because teething gels contain small amounts of anaesthetic you should avoid using them just before feeding because the numbness will prevent your baby from sucking properly and may also numb your breasts as well. It’s also recommended that teething gel should not be used more than six times a day.
It will be more obvious that your baby is teething if they are in pain or grizzly, or uninterested in feeding, because sucking causes blood to move to the swollen area, making the area even more sensitive.
The good news is that for most babies, the pain they will experience when cutting their first few teeth will subside as others come in later. The large molars at the back of the mouth don’t start to come in until after twelve months of age so although pain will be experienced again, there will be substantial periods where your baby is not teething.
The first teeth that are most likely to come through are the two bottom front ones, followed by the two top middle teeth and then the ones at the side and the back. Don't be alarmed if your baby has large gaps between each tooth as they can grow on an angle, and spaces typically disappear by age 3, after all twenty baby teeth have broken through.
If you have been feeding your baby to sleep, now is a good time to wean him off this routine because as baby’s teeth come through they will quickly decay if milk pools around them while the baby is sleeping. Once teeth do start to appear they should be brushed to ensure good habits and dental health. You don’t have to use much toothpaste unless foods with sugar are being eaten which shouldn’t happen until much later. If you maintain your baby’s oral hygiene, you should not need to take your baby to the dentist until they are around three years old. Fluoride drops may be useful for healthy teeth if you live in an area where the water supply isn’t fluoridated.
Discuss teething in our Babies 0-6 months forum.