While an adult will have around 32 teeth, babies are born with 20 teeth beneath their gums. The period when they start growing above the gum line is known as teething.
Baby teeth generally begin coming in around 4 to 7 months but sometimes not until the 12-month mark. All 20 baby teeth should be in place by the time a child is 3 years old.
There is a general order teeth come in. Normally, the two front bottom teeth come in first, followed by the two opposite top teeth, known as the central incisors. Next, the lateral incisors on the top come in, followed by the incisors on the bottom. The frontmost top and bottom molars come in next, followed by the canines. Finally, the molars furthest to the back of the mouth come in.
Surefire Signs of a Teething Baby
While not all babies display signs of teething other than teeth poking through their gum line, there are normally a couple of signs you should begin monitoring their tooth growth.
gums that are red, swollen and tender
chewing or gnawing on non-food items
a rash from drooling
A rash from drooling will appear most commonly in the face. It is caused by the bacteria and food particles in your toddler’s saliva, since this isn’t a time when they’re able to keep their mouth clean with toothpaste yet.
Irritability is caused by gum pain as the teeth surface above the gums.
Toddlers will normally try to gnaw on either your arm or their own if they’re teething.
Rarer Teething Symptoms
Some toddlers display more or different symptoms of teething than others. Here are a few other symptoms:
a fever under 101 degrees Fahrenheit
a decreased appetite
changes in sleeping patterns
Cheek rubbing is a child’s way of massaging pain or irritation out of the gum area.
Like any other growing pain, teething pain will keep a child awake at night until it subsides or until the child is just too tired to stay awake. Similarly, a decreased appetite means that their gums are more sensitive than before teething.
Signs Unrelated to Teething
Some websites llist cold symptoms and diarrhea as symptoms of teething. However, trusted organizations like the American Dental Association, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatrics identify these as false symptoms.
If your child displays any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with a pediatrician:
a fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit
Remedies To Ease Teething Pain
Cold water is known to reduce swelling. Wet a cloth with cold water and gently rub your child’s gums with it. You can also use your finger to massage the gum line if you clean it and apply cold water to it.
Another idea is to rub your toddler’s gums with a chilled spoon. Never leave a teething baby unsupervised with a hard metal or frozen spoon, as they could hurt their gums with it. An even safer idea is to give them hard rubber teething rings to gnaw on. Refrigerate them first.
If your child is in pain from teething, ask your pediatrician what over-the-counter medicines and dosages your child can consume. Certain children’s oral health care products containing the anesthetic benzocaine should be avoided. If you think your baby might need ibuprofen and acetaminophen for pain relief, consult your doctor.
Remedies To Avoid
While the teething phase will likely irritate your toddler, it would be better to avoid remedies and pain relief altogether than to resort to some commonly-marketed remedies.
One such remedy is teething necklaces. The beads on these can break off and your baby could choke. In addition, if they wear the necklace on their neck, they could suffocate. Any metal beads or other hard material like wood, amber, silicone and marble could also cut their mouth. The same applies to bracelets.
Don’t give your child teething toys made of gel, liquid or plastic. Generally, these are designed to freeze like ice packs. For this reason, they could easily break if frozen and then chewed on. Another reason they’re a bad investment is because if they do break, they could infect any open wounds in the gums. Anything too cold or hard may do more harm than good.
Always be wary of homeopathic or alternative medicine. It is not FDA approved. Avoid teething tablets. These contain traces of belladonna, a toxic plant substance. Additionally, avoid gels or creams that you rub on your toddler’s gums. Your child’s saliva will wash these away quickly. Many of these gels contain benzocaine, which is not safe for anyone under two years of age to consume. If too much of this gets in your toddler’s bloodstream, it will deprive their red blood cells of oxygen.
Professional Help During The Teething Period
After your child’s first tooth appears, consider taking them to their first dental visit. Their first tooth should appear by the time they hit their first birthday.
If they have a few teeth already, you want to ensure that they don’t get cavities. You don’t want your kid to lose their first few primary teeth so soon. Primary teeth are important because they allow your toddler to move beyond eating baby food to hard foods, and they help them develop their speaking skills.
It is typical to schedule dental checkups every six months. However, your circumstances may vary depending on your child’s oral hygiene. Visit our Ontario children’s dentist website to see if we’re the best kids’ dentist for your child in the area.