Teething refers to the process in which an infant’s first set of teeth start emerging through the gums. These teeth are often known as ‘baby teeth’ or ‘milk teeth’, usually arriving in pairs.
Some babies are early starters and begin to sprout their first pair of teeth at only 3 months of age. Similarly, some might prove to be late bloomers and only begin teething as late as their first birthday.
All in all, there is no set pattern or time frame that could be upheld as the standard for normal teething. Parents tend to get worked up about premature or delayed appearance of their baby’s first teeth, not realizing that this necessary rite of passage is not to be treated as a competition. Rest assured your little one’s teeth will arrive when they are ready.
Despite wide variances, the average age for teething is generally between 6 to 8 months. The toothy concerns however can begin even before the appearance of your baby’s first pearly whites, and it can take up to 2 years for the entire set of teeth to come through. The front two incisors are the first to crop up from the central gums at the bottom. This pair is followed by the upper two incisors at the center front.
A generic timeline for the development of your infant’s teeth:
- lower central incisors are the first to erupt at around 6 months of age
- upper central incisors develop at around 8 months of age
- lower and upper lateral incisors develop at around 10 months of age
- first molars appear at around 14 months of age
- canines begin to show at around 18 months of age
- second molars emerge when the baby reaches 2 years of age
How Can You Tell that Your Baby’s Teeth are On-The-Way?
Although most babies reel with some degree of discomfort and pain during their teething phase, some have it a lot easier and present no symptoms. Moreover, the nature and duration of the teething distress varies from baby to baby.
Some signs and symptoms of teething are:
- The baby’s gums appear swollen and tender
- The infant shows signs of excessive saliva production
- The increased drooling can lead to the development of a mild rash around the baby’s mouth, chin and chest
- The baby may run a slight fever
- The baby becomes uncharacteristically fussy and tends to cry a lot without any apparent cause
- The baby faces difficulty sleeping
- The baby exhibits a tendency to gnaw or chew on hard things
- The toddler’s cheeks acquire reddish hues
- The baby is likely to suffer from earaches and tug at his ear as a result
- The baby may lose his/her appetite and refuse to eat or breastfeed
Treating Your Baby’s Teething Discomfort
Teething babies can be difficult to handle, but you can help ease your child’s discomfort. There are many simple strategies as well as home remedies that can make the teething process easier for your little one.
Here are a few effective ways to get rid of teething discomfort in babies.
1. Massage the Gums
Sometimes, a simple massage of the sore gums helps a lot in easing a teething baby’s discomfort. Gentle pressure helps reduce pain and calm the fussy baby.
- Use your clean finger or a moistened soft washcloth to rub your baby’s gums for a few seconds. The baby may resist in the beginning, but soon he or she will start feeling better.
- Also, massage the baby’s face and jaw area in a circular motion.
2. Chamomile can Give Your Baby Easy Relief
The herb chamomile can help ease teething discomfort in babies older than 1 year of age. It has anti-inflammatory properties that help relax the painful nerves. It even helps calm an upset stomach.
- Mix 4 or 5 drops of chamomile essential oil in 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil.
- Warm the mixture in your hands, then use it to massage your baby’s jaw and around the ears.
- Repeat a few times daily.
3. Vegetable Pops can be Beneficial
Vegetables such as carrot and beetroot are good for babies. These vegetables contain anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce gum pain and irritation. Plus, carrots and beetroots help strengthen your baby’s immune system. If you have started administering solid foods to your baby, you can consider using the following recipe to alleviate his/her teething distress:
- Extract the juice of a few carrots and beetroots to get 1 cup of each juice.
- Mix the juices together and pour into ice pop molds that come with handles.
- Put them in the refrigerator to freeze.
- Remove the vegetable juice pops from the mold and give to your baby. The sweetness of vegetable juice and the cold temperature of the ice pops will help calm your baby.
4. Reflexology can Help with Teething Troubles
To calm your fussy baby, try foot reflexology. It can be effective in soothing the baby as firstly, babies respond well to touch and secondly, certain pressure points on the feet help alleviate tooth pain and promote better sleep.
For teething babies, massaging the top of the foot, specifically the toes can provide some temporary relief.
- Rub some warm oil on your baby’s foot.
- Apply gentle pressure on the toes (at the bottom) with the help of your thumb.
- Finally, give a nice massage to the whole foot.
- Do this for no longer than 5 minutes. Repeat once or twice a day.
5. Nurse Your Baby More Frequently
Breastfeeding offers sheer comfort to fussy babies. The process of suckling comforts them and even distracts them from the pain. In addition, breast milk provides a unique balance of nutrients that help babies recover faster.
Breastfeed your baby more often when he or she is experiencing teething discomfort. If your baby feels tempted to bite during nursing, try different positions.
You can even use your clean finger to briefly massage your baby’s gums before beginning and ending the nursing session.
6. Try Over-the-Counter Teethers
A teething ring can be comforting for your baby to gnaw on. When a baby bites down on the teether, it helps relieve the pressure under the gums.
Avoid any products that contain toxic ingredients like BPA (Bisphenol A), PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) or phthalates that can be harmful.
Opt for a teether made of silicon or wood, which are safe for babies. Also, choose one that is inviting and easy for your baby to hold.
To enhance its soothing powers, chill the teether in the refrigerator (not freezer) for 15 to 20 minutes before giving it to your baby.
- To help distract your baby from teething pain, take him or her for a short stroll.
- At times, running a warm water bath also helps relax a baby.
- Excessive drooling is part of the teething process and it can cause skin irritation. Keep a clean cloth handy to dry your baby’s chin. You can also apply a water-based cream or lotion on your baby’s face to prevent skin irritation.
- When your baby’s first teeth appear, use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush to clean the teeth. You can also use a clean, wet towel to clean the teeth to prevent any build up of bacteria.
- If nothing helps, visit a dentist.
- Macknin ML, Piedmonte M, Jacobs J. Symptoms Associated With Infant Teething: A Prospective Study. Pediatrics. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/105/4/747. Published April 2000.
- Top Tips for Handling a Teething Baby. The Therapeutic Care Journal. https://www.thetcj.org/early-years/top-tips-for-handling-a-teething-baby. Published July 10, 2012.
- McIntyre GT, McIntyre GM. Teething troubles? British dental journal. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/11440282_Teething_troubles. Published April 2002.
- Reflexology in Pregnancy and Birth. Washington Reflexology Association. https://washingtonreflexology.org/2012/03/1279/. Published March 5, 2012.
- Lyttle C, Stoops F, Welbury R. Tooth eruption and teething in children. The Pharmaceutical Journal. https://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/learning/learning-article/tooth-eruption-and-teething-in-children/20069598.article. Published November 17, 2015.