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What is teething?

Teething is the process of teeth growing and breaking through the gums. This is a normal developmental stage for your baby.

A baby's first tooth often appears between ages 6 months and 10 months. Some babies get their first tooth a little earlier and others a little later. Often, the 2 middle bottom teeth come through the gums first, followed by the middle 4 upper teeth. By the time children are 30 months (2.5 years) old, all 20 baby teeth are often present.

What are the symptoms of teething?

The following are the most common signs and symptoms of teething:

  • Drooling more than normal (drooling may start as early as age 3 months or 4 months, but is not always a sign of teething)

  • Constantly putting fingers or fists in the mouth (babies like to chew on things whether or not they are teething)

  • Swollen or puffy area on gum

  • Fussiness or crankiness

  • Trouble sleeping

Teething does not cause colds, rashes, diarrhea, or fever. But it can make a baby uncomfortable. If your baby becomes sick around the same time teeth are coming in, or seems to be cranky or fussy for longer than normal, it's important to evaluate the symptoms of that illness separately. Call your child's healthcare provider for advice if your baby is sick.

How can you help your child with the discomforts of teething?

If your baby is cranky with teething, try the following:

  • Give them safe things to chew on, like solid teething rings or chew toys.
  • Use cold items to soothe pain. Cool, damp washcloths, or cold teething rings may help.
  • Rub your baby's gum with your clean finger. Wash your hands first.
  • Ask your baby's healthcare provider about pain-relieving medicine for teething.

Some things meant to ease teething pain can be dangerous for your baby:

  • Don’t let your baby chew on things that are frozen solid. They are too hard and can hurt your baby's gums.
  • Don't use liquid-filled teething rings or other things that could break and be swallowed.
  • Don't use teething necklaces or beads. They are a choking and strangulation hazard.
  • Don't use numbing gels or teething tablets that contain belladonna or benzocaine. These medicines can be dangerous for young children.

Your child's healthcare provider can help you find safe ways to soothe your baby. Contact them with any questions or concerns.