Teething in Babies: Signs and Symptoms

Here are some frequently asked questions about teething in babies.

By Dr Gopinath Rao

Teething in Babies: Signs and Symptoms

Like many other things, teething time also differs among babies. However, most babies sprout their first tooth sometime during their first year of life. Let’s look at some of the common questions parents have about teething in their children.

When do babies start teething?

Most babies start teething around six months of age. But there are some who are born with their first teeth, while others start teething even before they are four months old, and a few others get their first tooth only after they are 12 months old.

What are the common symptoms of teething?

Although some babies are lucky to have their teeth cut through without any pain or discomfort, teething symptoms generally start a few weeks before the actual eruption of tooth. During this time, there is a possibility that babies may have:

  • soreness and redness in the gums
  • flushed face and cheeks
  • unusual amount of dribbling, which may cause rashes over the chin and cheeks
  • tendency to bite and chew everything they can get their hands on
  • unusual irritability
  • disturbed sleep patterns

Teething is often associated with symptoms such as diarrhoea and fever. However, there’s little evidence to support this.

In which order do the teeth erupt in babies?

The bottom front teeth are usually the first to appear within six months of birth. This is followed by the top front teeth, which tend to come through in between six and nine months. Teeth on either side of the top front teeth appear between nine and eleven months, while the ones on either side of the bottom front teeth appear between ten and twelve months of age.

Most children will have all their milk teeth erupt by the time they reach three years of age.

Is there any remedy for teething pain?

I am sure we’ve all heard a few of them from the older generation. Although I found very few of their remedies to actually be of help, there is no any harm in trying some of the following:

  • counter pressure by toys or fingers
  • chewing on teething toys
  • intake of cold foods
  • pain relief medication (used in rare cases)

How to keep those early milk teeth healthy?

Parents should regularly brush their children’s teeth twice a day with not more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Children’s intake of sugary foods and drinks should be kept to a minimum. Avoid sending them to bed with drinking bottles. Give them plenty of foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C as it is very important for healthy gums.

When should parents worry about delayed teething in their babies? And, when should they visit a dentist?

Most babies get their first tooth by their first birthday. However, it is acceptable to wait till the age of 15 months for the first tooth to appear. But in case of further delay, it is advisable to see the dentist for a specialist opinion. It is also good to see the dentist within six months of the appearance of the first tooth.

Dr Gopinath Rao, MBBS, MRCPCH, FRCPCH(UK), Neonatal CCT(UK), is a Consultant Neonatologist at Motherhood Hospital, Chennai.