Teething is a big milestone for you and your baby. Some babies may not feel a thing, while it can be pretty uncomfortable for others. Don’t be surprised if your baby gets a bit upset when those pearly whites start coming through. It does vary, but the average age for a baby to get their first tooth is around six months old.
The first teeth to appear are usually the two bottom middle teeth, followed by the two top middle teeth. The last teeth to make an appearance are usually the second, or back, molars in the lower and upper back of the mouth. Most children will have all their baby teeth by about two and a half - there are 20 in total, 10 at the top and 10 at the bottom.
Common teething symptoms:
- Your baby's gum looks sore and red where a tooth is coming in
- Flushed red cheeks
- Your baby might chew, dribble and want to gnaw on things a lot
- Baby’s bowel motions might get looser and look different
- Your bundle of joy is a little less joyous – they might be cranky or a bit tearful, particularly at night when the pain can sometimes make it difficult for them to sleep
Easing the discomfort of your baby's teething:
- Giving your baby a teething ring or cold washcloth to chew can help ease the pain of sore gums. Chilling it in the fridge first may also give extra relief.
- For older babies try giving them chilled sticks of cucumber or watermelon to gnaw on too – just wrap them in muslin or put them in a baby mesh feeder to prevent pieces breaking off. Always watch you baby at all times in case of choking.
- Cold foods like apple purée or yoghurt straight from the fridge can help numb the pain.
- Cold drinks can soothe the whole mouth. Try chilling cooled boiled water, expressed breast milk (or formula) in the fridge.
- Lightly massaging your baby's gums with a clean finger or clean damp wash cloth may help ease the pain.
Caring for baby’s teeth:
When they are really tiny and before teeth have sprouted, you can just use a clean damp washcloth to clean your baby’s gums. Once your baby’s first tooth has arrived, you can start brushing using a soft baby toothbrush with water only. When your little one is 18 months old you can add a tiny smudge of low-fluoride toothpaste on their toothbrush. At this initial stage the main thing is to get your baby used to the brushing routine twice a day. One brushing should be in the morning and the other at night before your baby goes to bed.
Tips for preventing decay and maintaining your baby’s smile:
No one is safe from decay. It can affect all of us, even your baby’s teeth. As well as regular brushing, here are a few ways to keep baby’s teeth in tip top shape:
- What’s in the bottle – If using a bottle, only put milk or cooled boiled water in a bottle, not juice or other sweetened drinks. Sweet drinks such as cordial, juice, soft drink and flavoured milk should not be given to babies and toddlers as they are bad for their developing teeth.
- Just hanging out – If using a bottle for milk, try not to leave your baby with a bottle in their mouth for a long time, and don’t put them down to bed with a bottle. This is unsafe and the milk can pool around developing teeth and lead to decay. Encourage them to drink from a cup as soon as possible. A cup can be introduced from 6 months of age.
- Sweets and treats – Babies and toddlers don’t need sugar sweetened foods, treats and drinks in their diet. Choose healthy snacks between meals in an age-appropriate texture such as fresh fruit, veggies, sandwiches, cheese, crackers.
- Get a pro involved – It’s a good idea to organise your baby’s first dental check-up after their first teeth appear or at 1 year of age. Unlike many adults, kids tend to enjoy a trip to the dentist with the sunglasses, bright lights and stickers!
References and more information:
Australian Dental Association https://www.teeth.org.au/babies-and-toddlers
The materials published on this website are of a general nature and have been provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your medical practitioner or a qualified health provider for any further advice in relation to the topics discussed.