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understanding teething

Just when you thought baby couldn't be any cuter, out pops a tooth revealing the most irresistible smile ever! But with that exciting milestone comes with some discomfort and the need to soothe your little love.

Below, we've put together a typical teething schedule, along with some tips on how to make this period easier for baby and for you. You'll also find general dental care guidelines to keep his pearly whites in tip-top shape.

baby teething schedule

For most babies, the first tooth will come through between 4 and 7 months of age. Some early developers may get their first tooth as early as 3 months, while late bloomers might not see a tooth until their first birthday. Your toddler should have all his primary teeth (also known as baby teeth) by 3 years old, which he'll have until around age 6, when permanent teeth are ready to push through.

Most of the time, the bottom front teeth (called the central incisors) are the first to arrive. After that, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), you can expect the rest of the teeth to show up at the following ages:

  • Upper front teeth: 8-12 months
  • Upper lateral incisors: 9-13 months
  • Lower lateral incisors: 10-16 months
  • Upper molars: 13-19 months
  • Lower molars: 14-18 months
  • Upper canines: 16-22 months
  • Lower canines: 17-23 months
  • Lower second molars: 23-31 months
  • Upper second molars: 25-33 months

relief from teething symptoms

About three to five days before a tooth pokes through his gums, baby will start giving you signs that a new tooth is on its way. During his teething spurts, he may be fussy, drool a lot and eat less, as well as have sleep problems, gum swelling and mouth sensitivity.

According to the ADA, rashes, fever, diarrhea or any of the other symptoms lasting for more than five days are not normal signs of teething. If you notice them, you should call your pediatrician immediately.

chewing: Most babies find the greatest relief for sore gums when chewing on a firm teether, teething ring or rattle. These are even more effective when they have a bumpy texture. Make sure whichever kind you choose, it is large enough that your child cannot swallow it. And be sure to clean teething aids regularly since they will be going in baby's mouth.

cold soothers/chilled food: Many teethers and teething rings are water-filled so they can be put in the refrigerator or freezer to ease baby's achy gums. The coldness will help reduce inflammation. You can also wet and freeze a clean washcloth for him to chew on. If baby has transitioned to eating solids, cold foods such as popsicles or chilled applesauce may also help relieve tender gums.

rubbing: If you don't have a teether on hand, a simple solution is to run a clean finger along baby's gums. Gently massaging his swollen gums may temporarily ease the soreness.

pain relief: If none of the above remedies seem to help baby, talk to your doctor about the safety and proper dosage of a children's pain reliever or a numbing gel. Be careful when rubbing gels or creams on baby's gums, as they may be dangerous if swallowed.

baby dental care

Even before baby has his first tooth, you'll want to introduce healthy dental care habits. Gently brushing his gums with a soft washcloth will help prevent the buildup of bacteria. This daily ritual will help him get used to having a "toothbrush" in his mouth once his teeth start coming in.

You should avoid putting baby to bed with a bottle, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). If you must, the organization recommends having nothing but water in his bottle. Sucking on the bottle can lead to the growth of cavity-causing bacteria, particularly if it's filled with a sweeter liquid.

When baby's first tooth comes in, switch to using an extra soft toothbrush. The bristles are a lot softer than adult toothbrushes. Just using water will do the trick for now. When he's at least 2 years old, you can start using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, being careful he does not swallow it. Encourage him to brush at least twice a day.

baby's first dental appointment

A child's first dental appointment should be as soon as his first tooth comes in, but no later than his first birthday, according to the ADA. During baby's first visit, the dentist will not only check his teeth, but also make sure his mouth, throat, and gums are developing correctly.

Even though you can't control when and how your baby's teeth come in, practicing good, daily dental care habits will ensure a healthier, more beautiful set of teeth as he grows.

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