Most babies experience teething by the time they’re 4 to 7 months old, though this can vary widely. One of every 2,000 to 3,000 babies are born with teeth, and many dentists aren’t concerned until teeth still haven't erupted by 16 months. The front teeth come first and the molars usually show up last, over a gradual timeline of 3 years. But once any tooth starts to emerge, chances are your baby will let you know, loudly!
Each primary tooth typically takes between three and five days to push through the gums, and depending on the baby, this process can range from painless to downright disagreeable. You might notice swelling around her gums, excessive drooling (and possible accompanying dry skin), and a change in her appetite, or your baby might just seem a little fussier than usual. Other classic signs of teething include chewing or gnawing on things, or pulling on her ear as a way to try to relieve the pressure of teething pain. Diarrhea, rashes, and fever are not signs of teething, and should be treated as possible signs of illness.
Babies under 6 months should avoid topical, over the counter remedies like Orajel, and some parents choose to avoid them altogether. This is because these topical medications can be accidentally swallowed, and the numbing effect in the throat can lead to a choking risk. Teething can also be treated with some simple yet soothing home remedies that don't carry the same risk.
Because gum soreness can be the most uncomfortable symptom of teething, many parents find that gently massaging their babies' irritated gums with a clean finger can temporarily numb the pain.
A change in sensation can distract your baby from teething pain. Come mealtime, try offering your baby some chilled water in a bottle (if she has passed the six-month mark). You can also cool down your baby’s food by refrigerating it before mealtime, or by pressing gently on swollen gums with a finger, cool spoon, or wet gauze.
A teething ring can be a fantastic stress reliever for both you and your baby. After all, once the first primary tooth emerges, your baby will want to put it to use! Having a soft ring to chew on will keep your baby happily occupied while the rest of the teeth make their entrance. Even better, you can place the teething ring in the freezer for a cool treat.
When all else fails, sometimes a hefty helping of love can bring your baby to a happier place. After all, a well-timed hug or kiss can melt our stress away well into adulthood. Why not try it when the teething gets tough?