From the time a baby is born, they are already sensing and feeling the world around them. Oftentimes, new stimuli can come across as discomforting and alarming. Babies never hide their true feelings and emotions. They become irritable and cry when they feel hungry, or cold, or dirty.
Teething is one of those phases of a baby’s development that causes them to become increasingly agitated or fussy. This is one of the first signs that your baby is teething. Teething is a process that a baby goes through during and leading up to the eruption of their teeth. This can cause pain and irritation in the gums.
When Does Teething Start?
There are 20 baby teeth that are expected to break out into a child’s mouth. Teething can occur months before a tooth appears and can continue until the tooth has fully grown into the mouth.
The first few teeth can start to appear as early as 3 - 6 months of age. All baby teeth should arrive by 3 years of age.
Baby teeth erupt or make their appearance in stages. Some babies begin teething earlier or later than others, therefore the timelines are approximated.
- Stage 0: All babies are born with a full set of baby teeth beneath their gums.
- Stage 1: By 6-8 months of age, the incisors erupt - these are the two front teeth of the upper and lower jaw.
- Stage 2: At 10-14 months of age, the first molars, also known as primary molars, begin to erupt. These teeth are based along the back of the mouth.
- Stage 3: By 16-22 months, canine teeth erupt. They are found between the incisors and molars, in both the upper and lower jaws.
- Stage 4: At 25-33 months, the large molars at the back of the mouth start to erupt. This can be the most painful stage.
How Do I Know My Baby Is Teething?
The symptoms of teething in babies can vary, and not all babies will experience the same symptoms. These may include irritability, anxiousness, and crying, along with a slight fever and sensitive or swollen gums. Babies may also chew on their fingers or hard objects and bite harder than usual. Other symptoms can include a poor appetite, excessive drooling, irritated skin or a rash due to drool, coughing, sleep disturbances, and rubbing of the ears and cheeks. Paying close attention to your baby's behaviour and symptoms can help provide valuable information to their paediatrician for a proper diagnosis. If symptoms persist, it is important to seek medical advice from a paediatrician to rule out other possibilities.
What Helps A Teething Baby Sleep?
When a baby teethes, the growth of teeth into the mouth can cause irritation and pain in the area. This can cause a baby to wake up from their sleep soon after you have put them to bed and at odd hours of the night.
Parents can use the following tips to make their children more comfortable during the teething process. This will hopefully help them to sleep better.
- Provide a teething toy: These toys are easily accessible and can be found at a local grocery store. Refrigerating them before use can help to numb the affected gums when a baby chews on them.
- Massage the gums: A single finger placed in a clean and dampened cloth can be used to gently massage the baby’s gums.
- Over-the-counter medication: Consult a doctor for safely available options suited to babies such as paracetamol syrup, which can be given to relieve pain.
- Make the baby comfortable: Have a bedtime routine. This could mean rocking the baby and using a white noise machine or soft music. Wipe away any drool and make sure the baby is dry and in comfortable clothes.
- It is important to start maintaining a baby's oral hygiene the moment they start teething, this includes limiting sugary foods and brushing their teeth twice a day with a baby toothbrush and infant toothpaste.
What’s The Difference Between Teething and Colic?
Some of the symptoms of teething can be similar to other conditions, such as colic. Knowing the difference can help you identify if your baby is teething or if something else is wrong.
Colic can occur anywhere from 6 weeks to 4 months of infancy. When a baby suffers from colic, they fuss and cry intensely for prolonged periods. It can last for hours, days or even weeks. Episodes of crying and irritability occur mostly at night. The exact cause of colic remains unknown, however digestive issues and feeding problems are attributed to the condition. The symptoms of colic are predictable, usually occurring at night.
Symptoms of teething include swollen gums, drooling and chewing on hard objects. These symptoms are distinctive of teething, which can present at any time of day or night.
When Should I Start Taking My Baby To The Dentist?
It’s best to start taking your baby to the dentist once teeth begin to erupt, at approximately 6-12 months of age. Thereafter, visits should be scheduled every 6 months. Seeking professional dental advice from the onset can help prevent your child from developing dental caries and oral infections. Paediatric dentists are specialists in dealing with children’s oral health from infancy. They also have expertise in handling children with special needs.