Teething can cause a lot of anxiety with new parents who are going through the experience of their child teething for the first time.  What is teething?  How long does it last?  How can parents make teething as comfortable as possible for their child?  Below are a few insights to guide you through the process, as well as some helpful tips.


What exactly does “teething” mean?

“Teething” is when your baby gets their first set of teeth in, breaking through the gums.  This typically starts around 6 months of age but anywhere from 3 of 12 months is in the range of normal. By the time your child is about 3 years old, he or she will have all 20 primary teeth.

How will I know when it starts?

The symptoms for teething can actually start a month or two before a tooth actually breaks through the gums. Some parents won’t notice anything unusual at all until they actually see a tooth. However, in many cases, there are several symptoms that appear before the tooth itself, including:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Biting
  • Crying or irritability
  • Lack of eating
  • Cheek rubbing or ear pulling
  • Waking up at night

Many of these are caused by the discomfort the baby is experiencing, and will pass when the pain passes, but keep an eye out if any of the symptoms become excessive.

What are some helpful teething remedies?

While your baby can’t avoid discomfort altogether, your pediatrician or pediatric dentist may recommend some of the following to help reduce the discomfort:

  • Teething rings or other teething toys
  • Frozen washcloths
  • Frozen peas
  • Counter pressure
  • Comfort
  • Pain relievers (but check with your pediatrician first)

How long does teething last?

A baby can start teething at 6 months, and not be completely done with all teeth coming in until they are 3 years old.  For some children, it’s quicker; for others, slightly longer but in general, plan on 3 years being the milestone when this subsides.

How do I keep new teeth healthy?

Your baby should see their pediatric dentist by the time they’re one year of age. The dentist can review issues such as feeding and cleaning habits, plus check for early signs of tooth decay. Use tap water or water filtered with a Brita filter for your child’s teeth brushing, as it contains much-needed fluoride for your child’s dental health (Brita filters don’t remove fluoride). Make sure to establish good oral habits to protect their teeth, including watching sweets and not allowing the child to sleep with a bottle to prevent baby bottle decay. More ideas for preventing tooth decay in children include diet, and regular pediatric dentist checkups.

Do certain teeth come in before others?

The “typical” order is lower two incisors, upper two incisors, lower two laterals upper two incisors – it usually goes lower two upper two lower two upper two, but what child is “textbook?”

Your child’s first molars erupt on the top between about 13 and 19 months. The companion molars on the bottom emerge around 14 to 18 months. Some say molars tend to cause more pain because they are larger; others say the canines are the most painful, so be prepared for that as your child goes through this stage of teething. Fun fact: They also lose their teeth in the same order they get them!

Meet with your pediatric dentist to become informed on this process

The best way to understand what to expect and how to keep your child comfortable is to meet with your pediatric dentist.  They can provide details on the timeline, symptoms to look for, and how to keep your child comfortable as possible during the process.  They can also educate you on how to keep your child’s new teeth healthy, and how to establish good oral habits for years to come. If your baby is getting ready to cut teeth, ask your pediatrician or contact your pediatric dentist to get prepared today!