When can you expect your baby to start teething?
As a general rule, baby teeth start emerging around the 6-month mark. It is not uncommon for teeth to appear earlier in faster-developing babies or later in premature babies.
How do teeth form?
Teeth begin forming in the womb. After birth, teeth typically come out in the following pattern:
- 6 months – lower central incisors
- 8 months – upper central incisors
- 10 months – lower and upper lateral incisors
- 14 months – first molars
- 18 months – canines
- 24 months – second molars
Teeth may come out crooked, but they will usually straighten out as more teeth erupt alongside them. Your baby should have a full set of 20 baby teeth by age 3.
How will you know if he or she is teething?
Some babies show no signs of teething while others experience discomfort. Your baby may express his discomfort in the following ways:
- Irritability or fussiness
- Drooling(which can cause a facial rash)
- Swollen, sensitive gums
- Gnawing or chewing behavior
- Refusing to eat
- Trouble sleeping
How can you make your baby more comfortable during this time?
Since teething babies have a strong desire to gnaw during this time, you can give them something to chew on such as a cold washcloth (cooled in the refrigerator, not the freezer), or a rubber teething ring.
If the gums aren’t too sensitive, you can massage the area with a clean finger. Applying a small amount of pressure or friction to this area can give pain relief.
If these methods don’t work then speak to your doctor who can recommend to you safe pain relief medication as well as the correct dosage. It is important that you speak to your doctor first before administering any medication (even natural medication), as these can potentially do more damage than good.
How do you care for & clean your baby’s first tiny teeth?
Oral care for your baby should begin at infancy, even before teeth start to emerge. At infancy stage, get into the habit of wiping the gums with a clean washcloth during bath time. As soon as the first teeth start to appear you should begin brushing them in the following way:
- Brush twice a day using a baby-designed toothbrush that is easy for you to grip.
- Use a tiny (rice grain size) amount of fluoride toothpaste.
- Brush gently on the inside and outside of the emerged tooth/teeth. There is no need to rinse the mouth as you only use a small amount of toothpaste.
- Replace the toothbrush as soon as the bristles looked frayed.
Flossing is not necessary at this stage because the teeth are far enough apart for food to not get stuck. Flossing should begin when teeth are close together and you can’t clean in between them with a toothbrush.
Getting your baby use to this routine early on will help make the transition to brushing his own teeth a lot smoother. It will also help him to be conscious of taking care of his teeth and gums as he grows and develops his adult teeth later on.