Baby’s first tooth is an exciting milestone moment for any new parent. It prompts lots of pictures, and even the occasional social media post. But before acquiring his new pearly whites, your baby has to go through teething first. When it starts A baby’s first tooth usually comes out at around 4 to 7 months old. Some, however, have them as early as 3 months or as late as a year old. Typically, the first teeth to erupt are the front bottom ones followed by the upper front teeth a month or two later. Then they work their way inwards with the second molars--those at the very back at the mouth--the last teeth to come out. Don’t worry (yet) if they don’t come out straight. They should straighten out over time with proper dental care.
By age 3, your child will have a full set of 20 teeth. A little later, his teeth will start popping out when he’s around 5 or 6 years old to be replaced by permanent teeth.
Signs and symptoms Just before you start seeing your baby’s first tooth popping through his gums, around 3 to 5 days prior, your baby may experience teething symptoms. They will disappear as soon as the tooth comes out. Some babies, however, don’t seem to be affected by teething at all.
To soothe his sore and swollen gums, you may notice your baby biting on his fingers and toys or being more irritable than usual. He can also refuse to eat and drink because his mouth hurts. There may also be heavy drooling, so much so that some babies get facial rashes.
A teething baby can also be grabbing at his ears a lot, have difficulty sleeping or constantly rub his face. It’s actually a little tricky to tell since there’s no one single set of symptoms. “No more than a third of babies have any one symptom,” pediatrician Deb Lonzer, chairperson of the Department of Community Pediatrics at Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital told Baby Center. “So, one-third of the kids might drool, another third might be irritable, and another third might have trouble sleeping.”
Although teething can cause your baby’s temperature to go a little higher, it doesn’t usually cause a high fever, diarrhea or a runny nose. If your baby does develop these, however, it’s most likely due to something else, especially now that your baby’s putting a lot of things in his mouth. Contact your child’s doctor if this happens.
What to do
To make your child feel better, you can:
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Give your child something to chew on, like a rubber teething ring. You could chill it in the fridge (not the freezer, you don’t want it rock hard) before giving to your child to provide more relief. Avoid liquid-filled ones as they could leak. A cold washcloth that you’ve chilled in the fridge also works.
Rub a clean finger over your baby’s gums to soothe the aching.
If your baby is already eating solid foods, cold food can bring a lot of relief, too. Try chilled bananas, a cold fruit puree or plain yogurt. Make sure to watch your baby while she’s munching on a banana to avoid any big pieces breaking off, posing as potential choking hazards.
If teething is really bothering your baby, consult with his pedia for medication he can take. Infant paracetamol is usually prescribed. But, again, consult with a doctor first.
Now, here’s what to do after the teething: According to Dr. Nina Tayag-Atotubo, member of the Philippine Pediatric Dental Society Inc., and consultant at the Pediatric Dentistry Center Philippines, the appearance of the first tooth should also signal the parents to bring their children for their first dental visit. “It should be done no later than age 1 or as early as when the first tooth erupts,” she said in an article in Smartparenting.com.ph.
Dr. Tayag-Atubo emphasizes its necessity because it’s during the first visit that the dentist teaches the parents how to care for their child’s dental health. Read more about caring for baby teeth here.