Teething

How to spot if your baby is teething
  • Many babies experience their teeth coming through without any pain or discomfort.  But you may notice the following;
  • your baby's gum is sore and red where the tooth is coming through
  • one cheek is flushed
  • they are rubbing their ear
  • your baby is dribbling more than usual
  • they are gnawing and chewing on things a lot
  • they are more fretful than usual

Some people think that teething causes other symptoms, such as diarrhoea and fever, but there's no evidence to support this.

Here's a rough guide to how babies' teeth usually emerge:

  • bottom incisors (bottom front teeth) – these are usually the first to come through, usually at around 5 to 7 months
  • top incisors (top front teeth) – these tend to come through at about 6 to 8 months
  • top lateral incisors (either side of the top front teeth) – these come through at around 9 to 11 months
  • bottom lateral incisors (either side of the bottom front teeth) – these come through at around 10 to 12 months
  • first molars (back teeth) – these come through at around 12 to 16 months
  • canines (towards the back of the mouth) – these come through at around 16 to 20 months
  • second molars – these come through at around 20 to 30 months

Most children will have all of their milk teeth by the time they are 2 1/2 years old

Tips on helping your baby when they are teething;

Teething rings

Teething rings give your baby something to chew safely. This may ease their discomfort and distract them from any pain.

Some teething rings can be cooled first in the fridge, which may help to soothe your baby's gums.

The instructions that come with the ring should tell you how long to chill it for.

Never put a teething ring in the freezer, as it could damage your baby's gums if it gets frozen.

Also, never tie a teething ring around your baby's neck, as it may be a choking hazard.

If your baby is chewing

One of the signs that your baby is teething is that they start to chew on their fingers, toys or other objects they get hold of.

If your baby is 6 months or older, you can give them healthy things to chew on, such as raw fruit and vegetables. Pieces of apple or carrot are ideal.

You could also try giving your baby a crust of bread or a breadstick.

Always stay close when your baby is eating in case they choke.

It's best to avoid rusks because nearly all brands contain some sugar.

Avoid any foods that contain lots of sugar, as this can cause tooth decay, even if your child only has a few teeth.

Teething gels

There's a lack of evidence that teething gels are effective. It's recommended that parents try non-medical options for teething first, such as a teething ring.

If you do decide to use a gel, make sure you use a teething gel that's specially designed for young children.

General oral pain relief gels are not suitable for children.

Teething gels contain a mild local anaesthetic and are only available from pharmacies. Speak to a pharmacist for further advice.

There's no evidence that homeopathic teething gels are effective. If you use a homeopathic gel, make sure it's licensed for use in the UK.

Some unlicensed homeopathic gels advertised on the internet have been linked to serious side effects.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has a list of licensed homeopathic gels.

Paracetamol and ibuprofen for teething

If your baby is in pain, you may want to give them a sugar-free painkilling medicine.

Paracetamol or ibuprofen can be given to relieve teething symptoms in babies and young children aged 3 months or older.

Children under 16 years old should not have aspirin.

Always follow the instructions that come with the medicine.

If you're not sure, speak to your GP or pharmacist.

Comforting a teething baby

Comforting or playing with your baby can distract them from any pain in their gums.

Gently rubbing their gums with a clean finger may also help.

Preventing teething rashes

If teething is making your baby dribble more than usual, gently wiping their face may help prevent a rash.

Caring for your baby's new teeth

You'll need to register your baby with a dentist when their teeth start coming through.

Start brushing your baby's teeth with fluoride toothpaste as soon as their first milk tooth breaks through.