A guide to baby teething and tooth care


Is my baby teething?

Babies appear to experience teething differently, so while some feel and express a lot of pain and disruption to their routine, other babies seem to cut teeth without much apparent distress. However, there are several common signs that parents around the world recognise as teething symptoms. These include:

  • Crying
  • Sore or red gums
  • Excessive dribbling of saliva
  • Chewing and gnawing on hard objects
  • Fretful behaviour
  • Restless during breastfeeds or bottle feeds
  • Fever

If your baby has severe symptoms, then seek medical advice.

When will my baby start teething?

Babies are usually born with a gummy smile as their teeth are hidden beneath their gums. Their milk teeth usually start to appear around four to six months of age but there is a big range with some babies being born with teeth and other babies still grinning toothlessly after their first birthday. There is generally no need to worry about early or late teething.

Which teeth will cut first?

Babies’ teeth generally appear in the order that follows:

  • Bottom two front teeth (incisors) – come through five to seven months
  • Top two front teeth (incisors) – come through six to eight months
  • Top lateral incisors (either side of the top front teeth) – come through at nine to 11 months
  • Bottom lateral incisors (either side of the bottom front teeth) – come through at 10 to 12 months
  • Canines – come through at 16 to 20 months
  • Molars – come through at 12 to 16 months
  • Second molars – come through at 20 to 30 months
  • By 30 months most children will have all of their first teeth (also called milk teeth)

How can I soothe my baby’s teething pain?

Some babies really suffer when they are teething and some show no apparent discomfort. As a baby’s teeth move through the gum, the gum can become swollen and inflamed. If your child seems to be in pain while they are teething there are several things you can do to help, including:

  • Some babies like to chew on something hard and cold like a teething ring that has been in the fridge. This might ease their discomfort and distract them a little. Never put a teething ring in the freezer as it could damage your baby’s gums if it becomes too hard or cold. Never tie a teething ring around your baby’s neck as it is a choking hazard
  • A cold, wet, clean flannel is also good for them to chew on – this can go into the fridge as well
  • Teething gels can be used on babies over four months and are available from most chemists. Make sure you use a gel specially designed for babies – not a general oral pain relief gel. Also check the gel does not contain an ingredient called salicylate salts – this, like aspirin, can cause a rare condition called Reye’s syndrome, which can cause serious liver and brain damage
  • If your baby is already having finger foods you can give them something healthy to chew on – such as raw fruit or vegetables. However, never leave your baby unattended as there is a risk of choking if their sharp teeth break off big bits of food
  • Avoid sugary foods. Even very little babies can get tooth decay!
  • Medicines – if your baby is old enough and is in pain or has a raised temperature, you can give them a baby dose (never exceed the dose written on the package) of paracetamol or Pican. Don’t give aspirin to children.
  • Cool (not too cold) water in a sippy cup can help soothe baby’s gums

Should I brush my baby’s teeth?

You can and should clean your baby’s teeth as soon as they cut through the gum. Use a soft baby toothbrush with a very tiny smear of age-appropriate fluoride toothpaste. It’s a good idea to include this in your baby’s daily routine as then they will get used to it early on. Try to do it at least twice a day. The easiest position is with them on your knee with their little head resting against your chest.

Should I take my baby to the dentist?

You can register your baby with a dentist when their teeth begin to appear and it is a good idea to get them used to visiting the dentist. Dentists have a wealth of experience in oral health in general so it is a good idea to check that all is well. Your baby’s dentist will advise you how often to arrange a check up in their first few years.


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