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Your Teething Baby

Unlike vital organs like the heart, your baby's teeth didn't start working from the day she was born. On the average, baby's first tooth arrives sometime during the seventh month; in some babies it can come as early as 3 months and in others as late as a year old or, even slightly later or earlier. It often follows a hereditary pattern in that if either parent teethed early or late, their baby may follow likewise. The symptoms precede the actual process of teething by some months. These symptoms listed below vary from child to child; some babies experience all or some of the symptoms while some lucky few don't go through the turmoil. Some symptoms are part and parcel of teething while others are mere coincidences which parents want to associate with teething.

Confirmed links to Teething:


Babies start to drool at anywhere from 3 weeks to 4 months of age; teething stimulates drooling in varying degrees in different babies.

Inflamed skin:

Constant contact with saliva cause baby's chin and cheeks to become irritated resulting in dry skin. Gently pat away the drool from time to time with a soft napkin. Check with your doctor on a suitable emollient you can use on the dry patchy skin.

Occasional cough:

Excess saliva can cause baby to gag or cough sometimes; as long as baby seems well otherwise, you have nothing to worry about.


During this phase babies will gum down on anything from their own tiny hands to your unsuspecting thumb. The counter pressure from biting will help relieve the sore gums.


Some babies have to deal with extreme pain while others feel negligible pain; the unbearable soreness is most evident with the first tooth eruption (after that it seems babies get more or less used to the pain from subsequent eruptions). Molars, because of the bigger size cause some amount of pain.


Baby may become cranky, out of sorts and moody because of having to deal with constant pain. Here again some babies are more irritable than others.

Refusal to eat:

Baby may lose appetite in foods and prefer milk instead; this is temporary and normalizes once the new tooth is through. This should not be an issue since baby is fussy right now anyway and most importantly baby is getting nutrition through fluids from nursing or formula. However you should not take things lightly if baby refuses a couple of feeds or is taking very little over several days.

Restless nights:

Her fussing continues into the evenings and can keep her awake in the nights. Even babies who have established sleep patterns can suddenly begin night waking again due to teething discomforts. Like many other teething symptoms night waking is more common with first tooth and molars.

Ear pulling:

Pain in the gums can travel to the ears and cheeks, especially when it is time for the molars to appear. It is common to see your teething baby tugging at her ears or the chin. Ear pulling can also mean ear infections so be alert for other signs and check with your doctor on your hunch.

Gum Haematoma:

Sometimes there is bleeding under the gums which may appear as a bluish lump under the gums. Most doctors suggest leaving them alone as they will heal without any interference. Cold compresses can be applied to lessen the discomfort.

Unconfirmed links to Teething:

Diarrhea and nappy rash:

Some doctors feel there is an association between the two and link the excess saliva swallowed to the loose stools. Other doctors don't support this claim and feel that other issues may be at play such as gastrointestinal problems. (The usual companion of diarrhea is nappy rash.) So even if your baby seems to have loose bowel movements around this time, you should not ignore it if it lasts more than two bowel movements.

Mild fever:

Some doctors hesitate to form this link to teething; they rather view it as a coincidence. It is around this time that babies lose their immunities from their mothers and become more prone to infections. Some doctors meanwhile find that a low-grade fever accompanies teething because of the inflamed gums. In any case treat fever as you would at any other time; call your doctor if fever doesn't subside after 3 days.

Types of pain relief..

There are some options you can resort to comfort your agonized baby. Rub her gums with your clean little finger or let baby chew on a clean, ice-cold flannel; try not to rely too much on medicines and gels if other natural methods can bring relief. Use it as a last resort.

Try the rattle or key rings:

Teething rings are good alternative to medications. Cooled water filled versions as well as textured ones may encourage the emergence of teeth along with providing the necessary comfort.

Finger foods:

Since they enjoy gumming down, offer babies to chew on finger foods; they help to strengthen jaw muscles. Chilled carrot, a frozen bagel are some examples. If you use any food be sure your baby is in the sitting position and under adult supervision.

A cold drink:

Offer baby a bottle of ice-cold water or juice. If she prefers the glass, offer the drink in one; some babies don't wish to suck right now. Fluids are important now as she may be losing them through excessive drools or diarrhea.

Cold foods:

Yoghurt, pureed fruits chilled or a popsicle may be more appealing now than warm foods.


If nothing seems to work, baby paracetamol syrup should do the trick; follow the dosage instructions and never over or under dose your child. A number of teething gels are available for babies older than 4 months; check the sugar dose and buy one that is age-appropriate. If you decide on homeopathic alternative, check on its suitability with your doctor first.

Finally never, ever get tempted to rub alcohol on your baby's gums even if it's a suggestion from your well-meaning friends or relatives; this works like poison to your young infant.

Teething chart

This chart shows the most typical pattern of tooth eruption.

Upper Teeth When tooth emerges
Central incisor 7 to 12 months
Lateral incisor 9 to 13 months
Canine 16 to 22 months
First molar 13 to 19 months
Second molar 25 to 33 months
Lower Teeth  
Second molar 23 to 31 months
First molar 14 to 18 months
Canine 17 to 23 months
Lateral incisor 10 to 16 months
Central incisor 6 to 10 months

• Generally, about 4 teeth will erupt in every 6 months of life.

• Lower teeth usually erupt before upper teeth

• Teeth in both jaws usually erupt in pairs - one on the right and one on the left

Pearls of wisdom

• Meanwhile it is never too early to start the cleaning regime; start by running a damp cloth over the gums even before the first tooth appears. You are not only introducing your child to a hygienic habit but also keeping your baby's mouth clean and germ free. Start 'brushing' with a dab of fluoride free baby toothpaste on a flannel cloth instead of toothbrush in the early months and progress to a toothbrush when your baby has more teeth. Baby will get accustomed to brushing by then.

• Primary teeth are important because they reserve the place for permanent teeth. "Baby" teeth play a key role in speech development and chewing.

• Most kids have their first set of teeth by the time they are 3 years old. Called the primary or baby teeth, there are 20 in total. When a child grows to age 5 or 6, these teeth start falling out, one by one.

• Slowly, the permanent teeth replace the primary teeth and by the time they hit their early teens, most kids have lost all of their baby teeth and have a full set of permanent teeth.

• There are 28 permanent teeth; around age 20, four more teeth called wisdom teeth usually grow in at the back of the mouth. They complete the adult set of 32 teeth.

• Primary teeth are smaller in size and whiter in color than the permanent teeth that will follow

• Girls start teething faster than boys

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Disclaimer: Information contained on this Web site is intended solely to make available general summarized information to the public. It should not be substituted for medical advice. It is your responsibility to consult with your pediatrician and/or health care provider before acting on any advice on this web site. While OEM endeavors to provide up-to-date and accurate information, it is not liable for any advice whatsoever rendered nor is it liable for the completeness or timeliness of any information on this site.
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