The exact time babies start teething varies. Some babies are actually born with teeth. Some start to get them as early as three months. On average, those first pearly whites appear between 4 and 7 months, with the majority appearing at 6 months. It can be a painful process. It can also be hard to know if your baby’s symptoms are a sign of teething or something else, and how best to soothe them.
Thankfully there is plenty of help and support available plus products, tips and techniques, such as baby massage. You’ll find lots of useful advice and information in our vlogs. You can also chat with other mums and experts in our Baby Clinic.
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Symptoms can vary significantly between babies. For some lucky babies (and parents), teething doesn’t cause any noticeable signs at all; however, others will suffer for anything between a few days to several months if a lot of teeth come through at once.
The most common symptoms of teething are:
Raised gums where the tooth is pushing through
flushed cheek(s) more dribbling than usual
gnawing and chewing on things
a lot more unsettled than usual
off their food ear grabbing
If you notice a few of these symptoms together then it is likely to be teething.
However, if your baby has a temperature, runny nose or diarrhoea then don’t dismiss it as teething, treat these symptoms separately and as always get a qualified medical opinion if you are concerned.
Most children’s teeth appear in the same order, although the timing may vary and some may come through together. Click here to see the likely order and time line for your child’s teeth to appear.
Teethers – Give your baby a teething toy or ring to chew on, you can refrigerate some first (it should state on the instructions for how long). Never freeze a teething toy as this could damage your baby’s gums.
Chewing – if your baby is 6 months or older then you can give them healthy things to chew on such as apple or carrots. Always stay with your baby if you have given them food in case they choke.
Pressure – you can rub your clean finger over their gums, this will provide some immediate temporary relief. TLC – give your baby as much comfort as you are able and try to distract them from the discomfort as much as possible.
Teething Gels– Teething gels often contain a mild local anaesthetic, which helps to numb any pain or discomfort. Make sure you use a product that is specifically made for teething and young children and check with a pharmacist or GP if you are unsure.
Pain relief– if your baby is in pain you may want to use painkilling medicine such as paracetamol elixir or ibuprofen. Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure you don’t exceed the maximum dosage. Remember your baby will probably be teething on and off for some time, so try to avoid using pain medication too often. Ibuprofen is good if they have a slightly raised temperature and is also an anti-inflammatory to help with the swollen gums.
Bibs – using a bib and changing it frequently can prevent moisture gathering and irritating baby’s skin. You can also use a barrier cream on their chin to prevent soreness such as petroleum jelly or un-fragranced moisturisers.
Nappy rash cream – some baby’s also get runnier than normal poos due to the increased saliva which is being produced and then swallowed, keep using your normal nappy rash cream or barrier cream to prevent sore bottoms.
Baby massage – our baby massage course shows you how you can use baby massage techniques to soothe baby and help relieve the symptoms of teething.
Note that some mouth ulcer gels and dental gels contain salicylate salts. These shouldn’t be given to children under 16 years of age due to the possible link between aspirin and Reye’s syndrome.
It is claimed that Baltic Amber contains an analgesic (pain relieving) substance called succinic acid, which is released by the beads in response to the warmth of the child’s body and absorbed through the skin. There is however no scientific evidence to support this, despite many parents being convinced they are effective. If you do decide to try one, please do not allow your child to wear a necklace unsupervised nor put it in their mouth due to risk of strangulation and/or choking should they break. Parents are advised to use safer methods.
Once your baby has teeth it is really important to start caring for them. You can use a baby toothbrush with a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste, so they start to get used to this from a young age. Don’t worry if you can brush much at this stage you are just getting them used to a toothbrush.
This guide has been checked and approved by our in-house Health Visitor, Maggie Fisher in July 2018