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Your baby is teething when his
or her first set of teeth, called primary teeth, break through the gums.
usually begins around 6 months of age. But it is normal for teething to start
at any time between 3 months and 12 months of age. By the time your child is
about 3 years old, he or she will have all 20 primary teeth.
lower front teeth usually come in first. Upper front teeth usually come in 1 to
2 months after the lower front teeth. See a picture that shows
when the primary teeth come in.
Some babies are fussier
than usual when they are teething. This may be because of soreness and swelling
in the gums before a tooth comes through. These symptoms usually begin about 3
to 5 days before the tooth shows, and they disappear as soon as the tooth
breaks the skin. Many babies don't seem to be affected by teething.
Babies may bite on their fingers or toys to help relieve the pressure in
their gums. They may also refuse to eat and drink because their mouths hurt.
Many babies drool during teething, which can cause a rash on the
chin, face, or chest.
Mild symptoms that get better usually are
nothing to worry about. Call your doctor if your baby's symptoms are severe or
don't get better.
Here are some tips to help your baby feel better while
Many parents use other teething remedies, such as gels
you put on a baby's gums. Many experts question if these work and are safe. If
you want to try these products, talk to your doctor about which types are safe
and how often to use them.
Learning about teething:
Knowing what to expect:
Primary teeth are usually known
as "baby teeth." Usually, the first primary tooth comes in (erupts) at about 6
months of age, although it can be as early as 3 months or as late as 1 year of
age. In rare cases, a baby gets a first tooth after his or her first birthday.
By age 3, most children have all 20 of their primary teeth.
Primary teeth usually erupt in a
Secondary, or permanent, teeth usually begin replacing
primary teeth around 6 years of age. Permanent teeth erupt in roughly the same
sequence as primary teeth. Usually, a permanent tooth pushes the primary tooth
out as it erupts.
Many times you might not know
that your baby has a new tooth coming in until you see it or hear it click
against an object, such as a spoon. Some babies may show signs of discomfort
from sore and sensitive gums, be cranky, drool, and have other mild symptoms.
These symptoms usually begin about 3 to 5 days before a tooth erupts and go
away as soon as the tooth breaks through the gum.
that gradually improve usually are nothing to worry about and may even be
related to a viral infection or other condition. Severe or ongoing symptoms
should be closely watched and discussed with your doctor.
Do not hesitate to call your
doctor any time you have
concerns about your child's teething. It is also a
good idea to talk to your doctor if your child has
unusual tooth development, such as late eruption of
the first tooth. Tooth development issues usually resolve on their own or are
If your baby has
discomfort while teething, you can:
Although some parents use
topical gels and other teething remedies, there are questions about how effective and safe these
products are. Talk to your doctor about which types of products are safe and
how often they can be used.
You can give your child
the best chance for healthy teeth and gums.
For more information on caring for your child's teeth,
see the topic
Basic Dental Care or
Home treatment usually helps
teething symptoms such as discomfort, drooling, and
irritability. But talk to your doctor if your child has other symptoms that
become severe or last longer than a couple of days.
talk to your doctor about any other teething concerns, such as if your
Your doctor may refer
your child to a
dentist who specializes in children's teething
problems, if this seems to be needed.
All children need early and regular
dental care. During
well-child visits the doctor will check
your child's dental health. A visit to a dentist is recommended within 6
months of when your child's first tooth comes in but no
later than your child's first birthday.1
Some parents dread their child's first visit to the dentist's office.
You can make a trip to the dentist more positive for your child if
you choose his or her dentist carefully. Talk to your
child about what to expect. And if you want, use books that are
meant to help a young child prepare for the first dental
exam. If you have concerns about how your child will behave, talk to your
dentist before scheduling the visit. Your dentist may allow your child to come
in once or twice before being examined. These types of visits help prepare your
child and often make him or her more comfortable with the dentist, other staff,
and the office environment.
Regular dental visits are important to teach your child good dental care
and to help prevent
cavities and other problems. The exam also helps to
identify and treat problems early and prevent them from becoming more serious.
For more information on routine checkups and tooth care, see the topics
Basic Dental Care and
This American Academy of Pediatrics website has information for parents about childhood issues, from before the child is born to young adulthood. You'll find information on child growth and development, immunizations, safety, health issues, behavior, and much more.
American Academy of Pediatrics (2008). Preventive oral
health intervention for pediatricians. Pediatrics,
122(6): 1387-1394. Available online:
Other Works Consulted
Fenick AM, Nelson LP (2011). Oral health supervision. In CD Rudolph et al., eds., Rudolph's Pediatrics, 22nd ed., pp. 47–52. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Karp JM (2011). Delayed tooth emergence. Pediatrics in Review, 37(1): e4–e17.
Klein U (2012). Oral medicine and dentistry. In WW Hay Jr et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Pediatrics, 21st ed., pp. 465–476. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Current as of:
April 16, 2013
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine
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