5 Teething Symptoms In Babies And How To Treat Them

5 Teething Symptoms In Babies And How To Treat Them

Babies are born with all 20 primary teeth underneath the gumline. They normally begin to come through between 6 and 12 months, but teething symptoms typically start between four and seven months. The full set of baby teeth is usually in place by age 3. However, the timeline of your baby’s teething is no indication of his or her health.

As exciting as it is when your baby’s teeth come in, it can also mean a particularly fussy infant and long, sleepless nights for you. Today we will discuss everything you need to know about teething, teething symptoms, how to comfort your baby and more.

What Is Teething?

Teething is the exciting process of an infant’s first teeth emerging, typically in pairs, through the gums. The mandibular central incisors are the first primary teeth to emerge, usually between the age of 6 and 10 months. The tooth eruption process can take several years to complete. When teeth emerge hormones are released into the body which causes some cells in the gums to die and separate, leaving room for the teeth to emerge. This is process is commonly referred to as “cutting teeth,” although the gums are not actually cut during this process.

Expect the following to occur during teething:

  • Two lower central incisors will appear at approximately 6 months
  • Two upper central incisors will appear at approximately 8 months
  • Two upper lateral incisors at approximately 10 months
  • Two lower lateral incisors at approximately 10 months
  • Four first molars at approximately 14 months
  • Four canines at approximately 18 months
  • Four-second molars at approximately 2-3 years

How To Care For New Teeth

Hopefully, you have been running a soft infant toothbrush or a clean, damp washcloth over your baby’s gums every day. This cleansing keeps bacteria from building up in your baby’s mouth. When your baby’s teeth first appear, use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a bit of fluoride toothpaste at most the size of a grain of rice. At about two or three years old, when your child learns how to spit, use a dollop the size of a pea.

When your baby starts teething, at about six months old, it is time to think about regular dental checkups. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association recommend scheduling a child’s first dental appointment between the time the first tooth appears and his or her first birthday. Regular childhood dental wellness checkups help set the stage for a lifetime of healthy gums and teeth.

What Are The Five Main Teething Symptoms To Look for?

Mother and a baby

The five main teething symptoms to look for are:

  • Drooling
  • Chewing on objects
  • Irritability or crankiness
  • Sore or tender gums
  • Low-grade rectal fever of 99F or 37.2C

Normal teething symptoms are fussiness, trouble sleeping, irritability, loss of appetite and drooling more than usual. Abnormal symptoms which may warrant a call to the pediatrician are fever, diarrhea, and rash.

If your baby is pulling his or her ears and rubbing the chin and cheeks, the teething process is around the corner. By pulling and rubbing, babies massage their jaw, countering the pressure of the teeth trying to erupt and easing some of the throbbing pain. If she is between 3 months and 3 years old and her sleeping patterns change, it may be due to teething discomfort. This causes babies to nap less and wake up earlier in the morning.

How Do You Treat Teething Symptoms?

While it is miserable to watch your baby suffer, you can ease their pain. If your teething baby is communicating discomfort, there are a few things you can do to comfort your baby. Usually, teething can be handled at home. You only need to contact the pediatrician if your baby develops a fever, seems unusually uncomfortable or has other signs and symptoms of an illness unrelated to the teething.

Mother and a baby

Use a moistened gauze pad, cool spoon or a clean finger to rub your baby’s gums. The pressure can ease the pain and discomfort. Cold washcloths and chilled teething rings can also soothe your baby’s gums, but do not freeze the teething ring. Teething rings, fingers and other objects in the mouth will produce saliva. Keep a clean cloth nearby to dry your baby’s chin to prevent skin irritation as excessive drooling is all part of the process. You may also apply a moisturizer such as a water-based lotion or cream.

Look for solid rubber teethers for your child to chew on as liquid-filled or plastic teething rings could break and pose a choking risk. Avoid metal bracelets as these can lead to lead poisoning and possibly death. Seek medical care immediately if your child experiences any of the following serious symptoms:

  • Skin flushing
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Muscle weakness
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Agitation
  • Excessive sleepiness

If your baby is eating solid foods, offer something edible up to gnaw on such as a baby carrot or peeled cucumber. Keep a close watch out for choking, though, as any piece that breaks off poses a choking hazard. If your baby is not eating solid foods, try applesauce, pureed fruits or yogurt.


If your baby is especially fussy, try an over-the-counter remedy that is safe for babies. Try a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen, sometimes sold as Advil, Children’s Motrin and others. Otherwise, try acetaminophen, often sold under the brand name Tylenol. The Food and Drug Administration recommends against parents and caregivers offering babies benzocaine products for children under two years of age. They provide little to no benefits for treating oral pain including sore gums in infants caused by teething.

Teething Products

The FDA also urges parents to not use homeopathic teething tablets. Lab testing discovered inconsistent levels of a toxic substance known as belladonna in some homeopathic teething tablets. In some cases, these far exceeded the amount claimed on the label. There is no current proof of health benefits from these risky, unsafe products. On the other hand, they are known to cause methemoglobinemia which greatly reduces the amount of oxygen carried through the bloodstream.

Amber teething necklaces use the baby’s body heat to trigger a natural anti-inflammatory, succinic acid. Remove the necklace any time you turn your back from your baby, especially before bed, to prevent choking. Wrap it around the wrist or ankle if you want her to wear it as she sleeps. You can also get a silicone teething necklace for yourself, so your baby can fiddle with in while sitting on your lap or in a baby carrier.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies have been used for centuries to ease teething pain. Make herbs into a tea and use it to dampen a washcloth before freezing. Give the tea to your baby as a beverage or rub it directly on the gums. The tea can be made by steeping one teaspoon of herbs in 10 ounces of boiled water for 6-7 minutes.

Herbal infusions can be made by placing your herbs in a small saucepan and covering with olive oil. Simmer on low for four to six hours, strain and store in the refrigerator. Dab the oil onto your baby’s gums as needed to relieve symptoms.

Some herbs that have proven useful:

  • Rosehip – Rosehip tea is packed with vitamin C and antioxidants which are great for boosting the immune system. This reduces the risk of gum infections and anti-inflammatory properties reduce pain.
  • Chamomile – Chamomile is used to relax your baby and soothe irritability. It makes a wonderful tea and is a popular remedy for teething pain.
  • Catnip – Catnip is proven to calm your irritable baby and help her rest.
  • Clove – Clove has natural anesthetic properties and works as well as benzocaine, a synthetic numbing agent, without the associated potentially lethal risk.


Teething is an exciting time. Your baby’s teeth begin to erupt from the gums. Think about scheduling a dental appointment after your baby’s teeth start coming in. With a little knowledge, you can relieve any teething symptoms your baby is having and can sleep peacefully through the night. Change in appetite and sleeping habits, fussiness, excessive drool, chewing on objects and sore or tender gums are common. Keep an eye out for a rash, diarrhea or fever of 100.4 degrees or more. This can be a sign of an infection and you should call your pediatrician.

A change in eating habits can indicate gum pain, so massage the gums with gentle pressure and a clean finger or moist gauze pad. If this is ineffective, you can try child-safe over-the-counter medications. Keep the gums cool and dry any drool to prevent skin irritation, but do not expose your baby’s gums to the cold for too long.

Avoid numbing gels such as benzocaine for children under 2 years old, homeopathic teething tablets and some necklaces which can pose a choking hazard. Try feeding your baby cold foods such as peeled cucumbers or carrots if they are eating solid food. If not, pureed fruits, yogurt, and applesauce are good options.

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