When Does My Child Start Teething?
On average, teething starts around 6 months of age. Every child is different, and it can be as early as 3 months to as late as 12 months of age. Most children have a full set of 20 baby teeth by age 3. The diagram below is a timeline for baby teeth eruption (Source: Mouth Healthy by American Dental Association).
Signs of Teething
Every baby is different. Some may have all signs of teething, and some may not express any discomfort at all.
1. Drooling: Constant drooling and excessive saliva can cause skin rash.
2. Rosy Cheeks: Some babies and toddlers may rub their cheeks or pull on their ears to relieve discomfort. Check to rule out other causes such as ear infection.
3. Red Swollen Gums: They may refuse to chew and eat. Keep at it. If you see bluish bump on the gums, it is ok.
4. Chewing and Biting: Pressure on the gums can relieve pain.
5. Irritability: If your child is waking up at night, comfort your child and try some of the tips listed below. Do not offer nighttime feeding as a way to console your teething baby. You may soon regret it after teething is done.
If you are not sure, see Dr. Ella to check. Teething does not cause high-grade fever or diarrhea. See your pediatrician if these symptoms develop.
What To Do For Teething Toddler
Discomfort is expected as teeth push through gums. Cold and pressure will help relieve pain. See what you can do to help your child.
1. Massage Gums: With clean fingers or gauze, gently massage the gums. You can chill (not freeze) the wet cloth to rub the gums.
2. Teething Toys and Ring: Firm plastics teething rings are the best to chew on. Sophie the Giraffe with 100% natural rubber and food paint is a popular choice. Make sure teething toys are not a choking hazard. Anything that can fit in a paper towel tube is too small for your baby e.g. Baltic Amber necklaces are a choking hazard. Avoid the liquid filled ones because they can puncture and leak. Do not tie the ring around the neck. It can get caught and strangle.
3. Cold Food: Give cold yogurt, mashed chilled bananas or cold applesauce. Give ice water in a bottle or sippy cup. Avoid putting juice or milk in the bottle because they can cause cavities.
4. Hard Food: If your child has started on solids, biting on hard crackers, carrots and celery sticks will feel good on gums.
5. Wipe the Drool: Constant drool can cause skin chapping. Place a bib on your baby, and gently wipe and pat throughout the day.
6. Pain Medication: If your child is in great discomfort, give ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin for Children) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Aspirin is not recommended for children as it can cause Reye’s Syndrome.
7. Avoid Topical Medication: Do not rub alcohol or numbing gel on your child’s gums. Your child can swallow the numbing gel such as OraJel, causing numbness of the throat, which can interfere with the gag reflex. The FDA issued a warning against topical numbing gel and cream for babies under 24 months of age. It can cause a rare but serious condition called methemoglobinemia. It is a condition where oxygen level drops dangerously low in your child.
8. Avoid Homeopathic and Natural Teething Medication: Some can cause heart problems and drowsiness.
What is Next?
When you baby starts teething, you can start on solid food. Soon, your baby will be able to pick up food and eat on his/her own.
Teething for Adult Teeth?
Discomfort and pain associated with teething is usually limited to baby teeth. Most of the time, children do not have teething discomfort for adult teeth. One exception is wisdom teeth, which come in anywhere from 18 to 25 years of age and can cause great pain.
Dr. Ella Choi is a certified specialist in pediatric dentistry serving South Surrey, White Rock, Langley and Aldergrove in Beautiful British Columbia.