Baby Teething – A Guide for Parents

Teething is a normal part of baby development that parents usually anticipate with excitement for that first tooth. But when babies start experiencing teething discomfort, it can leave parents feeling distressed and uncertain how to provide relief. Understanding the full teething process helps you support your baby through this transitional stage.

What is Baby Teething?

Teething is the process of a baby’s teeth breaking through its gums. This typically occurs between 4 and 12 months of age but can start as early as 3 months or as late as 18 months. Most babies will have a full set of primary teeth by age 3.

What Happens During Teething

Teething occurs when a baby’s teeth first push through the gums, typically between 3 and 12 months old, though emerging teeth can cause discomfort for months before and after. Teeth generally emerge through the gums in pairs starting with the two bottom front teeth. While babies are born with 20 primary teeth below the gums, the eruption sequence and timeline can vary.

As the teeth press through the gums, it causes surrounding tissue inflammation and stimulation of nerves which can be painful. Additional effects like increased drooling and chewing behaviors represent the baby’s efforts to counteract the discomfort in their tender gums.

While unpleasant, teething discomfort is temporary and an expected step in every infant’s oral development. Paying attention to teething symptoms allows parents to provide extra comfort measures through this unsettled period.

Teething Timelines: What to Expect

While every baby develops differently, the timeline below outlines the usual ages at which various teething milestones occur:

3-6 months

  • The two bottom front teeth push through, sometimes called the central incisors

6-8 months

  • The four upper front teeth emerge next

8-12 months

  • Teething accelerates with the one year molars, eye teeth, and additional incisor pairs entering on the top and bottom

13-19 months

  • The remainder of the primary teeth erupt, including the upper and lower second molars

Babies experience the most intense teething symptoms when the large molars emerge given their size and location deep within the upper and lower gums. While most teeth fully erupt by age 3, monitoring your baby’s oral development allows you to anticipate periods of increased discomfort.

Signs and Symptoms of Teething

Though every baby handles teething differently, the following provide cues that your baby may be teething:

Excessive drooling

The surge of saliva lubricates tender gums and soothes teething pain through its numbing properties, causing damp clothing and dribbles of drool.

Increased chewing behaviors

Babies bite down on toys, clothing, and other objects to massage their irritated gums.

Tender, swollen gums

As teeth push up, the gums redden and swell around areas of new eruption. Gentle gum massages can bring relief.

Irritability and crying

Discomfort makes babies fussy and harder to soothe. Crying peaked when new teeth penetrate the gums.

Difficulty sleeping

Disrupted nighttime sleep often accompanies teething as painful gums interfere with rest.

Decreased appetite

Chewing and eating solid foods may hurt, causing some babies to favor soft foods and liquids.

Ear pulling or cheek rubbing

Babies instinctively try to relieve mouth pain by rubbing the face or tugging ears.

Low grade fever

Working teeth through the gums leads to mildly raised body temperature, usually under 100°F.

Paying attention to behavior changes can help determine if emerging teeth are the source of your baby’s distress. While symptoms subside once mature teeth break through, the eruption process can take months. Monitoring symptoms allows responsive caregiving tailored to your baby’s needs.

Teething Complications

Though teething itself poses no major medical risks, the accompanying symptoms and behaviors can sometimes create secondary issues, including:

Rash around the mouth

Excess drool and moisture can lead to chapped skin, irritation, and rashes around a baby’s mouth.

Mild diarrhea

Increased swallowing of drool overworks the digestive system and may loosen stools.


Reduced feeding coupled with drool loss may require increased fluid intake.

Chewing injuries

Aggressive biting of objects could damage emerging teeth or pose a choking risk.

Though inconvenient, these complications are temporary and ease once teeth fully emerge. Gently redirecting chewing, keeping skin dry, offering liquid nutrition, and supervising exploratory play protects baby through peak discomfort periods.

Which Teeth Emerge First?

While the emergence order varies slightly from child to child, the first set of baby teeth generally erupt in this sequence. Here is a table outlining the usual eruption sequence for baby teeth:

Age Range Teeth Details
6-12 months Bottom central incisors The two bottom front teeth are usually the first to emerge.
8-12 months Top central incisors Next the four upper front teeth tend to erupt.
9-13 months Top lateral incisors The teeth adjacent to the upper central incisors come in next.
10-16 months Bottom lateral incisors The teeth next to the bottom central incisors emerge.
13-19 months First molars These first broad grinding teeth push through.
16-22 months Bottom canines The sharp teeth on either side of the bottom central incisors come in.
17-23 months Top canines Next the upper sharp canine teeth emerge.
23-33 months Second molars Finally the second set of broad molars erupt.

Gently running a finger over gums lets you feel teeth close to penetrating the surface. Running a finger gently over your baby’s gums allows you to feel ridges and bumps signaling teeth pushing their way through the surface.

Teething Remedies: Finding Relief

While growing pains are inevitable with emerging teeth, there are several ways parents can provide soothing relief:

Chilled teething toys

Distraction plus cold surfaces to gnaw help numb discomfort. Avoid liquid filled plastic teethers which could leak or break.

Cool spoon rubbing

Gently rub swollen gums with a chilled spoon to reduce inflammation and pain.

Clean finger massage

Place a freshly washed finger into baby’s mouth and rub sore areas of their irritated gums.

Frozen fruit

Give thawed frozen fruit like bananas to nibble for temporary numbness.

Over-the-counter pain relief

Medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can ease swelling and discomfort under doctor approved dosing.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against prescription numbing gels or dental nerve procedures to manage teething pain due to safety concerns. Providing comforting measures alongside emerging teeth fosters trust and confidence.

Teething Timeline Table

Referencing this teething timeline helps anticipate periods of increased discomfort:

Age Range Teeth
6-12 months Bottom central incisors
8-12 months Top central incisors
9-13 months Top lateral incisors
10-16 months Bottom lateral incisors
13-19 months First molars
16-22 months Bottom canines
17-23 months Top canines
23-33 months Second molars

While the exact schedule varies per baby, this overview maps common eruption windows. Make notes tracking your baby’s teething journey.

Baby Teeth Count: Working Towards a Full Set

Babies develop one set of 20 deciduous or “baby” teeth comprised of:

  • 8 incisors (front cutting teeth)
  • 4 canines (pointed teeth near incisors)
  • 8 molars (rear grinding teeth)

The baby teeth serve as placeholders, maintaining the integrity of the jaw until around age 6 when permanent teeth slowly replace them. Caring for emerging teeth preserves the full set critical for future digestive and speech development. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste upon eruption protects tooth integrity.

Do Babies Get Symptoms Before Teeth Emerge?

Many babies demonstrate teething discomfort weeks or even months before a tooth visibly cuts through the gums. Under the surface, pressure increases as the developing tooth digs upward. Plus inflammation builds as the gum tissue remodels around the eruption point.

Evidence suggests low grade inflammation around moving teeth also exposes nerve fibers contributing to localized pain. So while the tooth itself remains unseen, the disturbances underneath generate frustrating symptoms. Typically early signs like increased drool and chewing behaviors present first with more overt discomfort close to the emergence date.

Teething Symptoms Versus Illness

Since teething inflammation creates its own set of symptoms, it can be tricky distinguishing garden variety teething distress from something more serious.

Signs of concern warranting medical evaluation include:

  • High fevers over 102°F
  • Body rash
  • Persistent crying exceeding 3 hours per day
  • Listlessness or lethargy
  • Congestion, coughing, or breathing issues
  • Uncontrolled bleeding or sores

Reactive symptoms like low grade fever, extra drooling, and gum irritation pose no lasting harm. But acute issues require assessment to rule out infection versus typical teething inflammation. When in doubt, consult your pediatrician.

Support Your Baby Through Teething Transitions

As you support your baby through the waves of teething discomfort, remember that while the symptoms appear severe, they are temporary. Responding to needs with patience helps create confidence and trust during unsettled periods.

Teething ushers in an important early milestone setting up your baby for future speech and nutrition. Like with any development hurdle, the obstacles resolve given attentive parenting grounded in understanding. With your care and comfort, soon this too shall pass, leaving your baby with beautiful emerging teeth worth all the effort.

Signs and Symptoms of Teething

Here is a table detailing the common signs and symptoms of teething in babies:

Sign/Symptom Description
Excessive Drooling Increased saliva production leads to drooling and damp clothing
Chewing Behaviors Chewing on toys, fingers, clothing to counteract gum pain
Irritability/Fussiness Discomfort leads to increased crying and fussiness
Tender, Swollen Gums Gums redden and swell around erupting teeth
Sleep Difficulties Pain and discomfort makes it hard for baby to sleep
Decreased Appetite Chewing and feeding is painful, reducing appetite
Ear Pulling/Face Rubbing Reflex reactions trying to counteract gum pain
Low Grade Fever Fever under 101°F due to inflammatory response

Though not a serious medical condition, the pain and discomfort of teething causes identifiable distress in babies. Knowing these signs helps parents understand their baby’s behavior changes.

    Teething Timeline

    The teething process can vary from baby to baby, but the following is a general timeline

    • 4-7 months: Lower central incisors (bottom front teeth) appear
    • 6-10 months: Upper central incisors (top front teeth) appear
    • 8-12 months: Upper and lower lateral incisors (teeth next to the front teeth) appear
    • 9-13 months: First molars (back teeth) appear
    • 14-18 months: Canines (pointed teeth) appear
    • 16-22 months: Second molars (back teeth) appear

    Tips for Managing Teething

    Here are some tips for managing teething discomfort

    • Offer your baby a teething toy or a clean, damp washcloth to chew on.
    • Massage your baby’s gums with a clean finger or a damp cloth.
    • Give a cold teething ring or a damp washcloth to chew on.
    • Offer your baby cold, soft foods like yogurt or applesauce.
    • Use a teething gel or drops (with your doctor’s approval).
    • Give your baby over-the-counter pain relief medicine (with your doctor’s approval).

    When to See a Doctor

    Teething is an essential part of a baby’s development. Still, you should contact your doctor if your baby has a fever higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit or is experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, or a rash. These symptoms may be a sign of an unrelated illness.

    Related: Blood Clot Size of a Golf Ball


    teething can be challenging for babies and parents, but it is a normal and temporary part of a baby’s development. Understanding what to expect during teething and how to soothe your baby can make this process easier for everyone involved. Remember to always consult your doctor before trying any new remedies or medications.

    Teething FAQs

    Confused about exactly what’s happening those few years of constant teeth eruption? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.

    How long does teething last?

    The average teething timeline spans 18-30 months from the first erupting tooth to the last emerging molar. Periods of intense discomfort usually run 1-2 weeks surrounding new eruptions.

    Do teething babies get diarrhea?

    Some babies demonstrate loose stools while teething. The excess drool they swallow contains inflammatory factors that impact digestion. Diarrhea should resolve once peak teething passes.

    When does drooling from teething stop?

    Profuse drooling results from the swelling and saliva surge around emerging teeth. It continues throughout the eruption process, lasting days to weeks surrounding new teeth cutting through.

    Do babies vomit while teething?

    The irritation during teething may cause some gagging or nausea alongside low appetite and swallowing excess drool. Vomiting resulting dehydration warrants medical support.

    Is teething painful?

    Yes, the pressure and inflammation around moving teeth definitely causes pain and sensitivity even though it’s part of a normal body process. Discomfort explains the crying and distress.


    My name is Selina, a medical specialist blogger helping people access treatment for 5+ years. Although blogging awhile, only recently deeply engaged. This past year my most productive, providing hospital reviews and info on symptoms, diagnoses and diseases. Also offer guidelines to help readers navigate healthcare. Goal to continue increased content pace to assist many. Aim to facilitate treatment and empower advocacy through writing.

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