What is teething and when do babies start teething? Teething is a process where a baby’s first teeth start breaking through the gums. Teething usually happens around the first 4 to 6 months of age, but it varies for each child anywhere between 3 to 12 months. The first set of teeth to emerge is the ones in the lower front. The upper front teeth usually emerge one or two months after the lower front teeth have come out. The last set of teeth to appear is usually the ones at the back of the mouth. And by the time the babies are 3 years old, all 20 primary teeth will have emerged.

When Do Babies Start Teething? – The Symptoms

Teething is a difficult time for both the baby and parents. As the baby teeth pushes up against the gum, it can inflame the gum making it sore or itchy. The signs of teething usually start 3 to 5 days before a tooth starts to show up and the symptoms stop soon after the teeth breaks the skin. Some of the common symptoms of teething include:

  • Swollen gums
  • Increased saliva or drooling
  • Chewing on the fingers or toys
  • Refusing to eat or drink
  • Irritability
  • Poor sleep
  • Constantly rubbing the face or ears
  • Flushed or rosy red cheeks
  • Tooth buds start appearing
  • Some babies may suffer a slight fever or have diarrhea

Teething Problems to Watch Out For

Most of the teething symptoms are mild and will disappear soon after the teeth breaks out. However, in some babies, the symptoms may get worse. If your baby has high fever, diarrhea, or vomiting; and his/her gums are highly inflamed or look blue to you, or if there are bumps on the gums, it is time to visit your doctor.

Tips to Help Relieve Your Baby’s Teething Problems

Although the signs of teething vary from child to child, one symptom that universally shows out in all teething babies is that their irritable or disturbed mood. Even the sweetest and well behaved babies can become disagreeable unless steps are taken to make teething easier. Here are some of the things that you can do to help relieve your baby’s teething problems:

  • Gently rub your baby’s gum for a couple of minutes with your finger. Although babies may not like it at first, they will soon find it soothing.
  • Give your babies something soft to chew on. If it’s a toy make sure it is non-toxic, is appropriate for the age and is BPA-free.
  • If possible, place the teether in the fridge to cool it before giving it to the baby. Don’t put it in the freezer though.
  • If you are using a teething ring, do not use ones with liquid fills in them. They may get punctured and your baby may ingest the liquid material inside it.
  • If you baby has started taking in cold foods, feed him/her cold food like yogurt or refrigerated apple puree.
  • Avoid using teething gel on a baby’s gums. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that it can create numbness in the throat and make it difficult for babies to swallow
  • If your baby is drooling excessively, constantly be around them and pat them dry to avoid soreness and rashes.

Teething Medications

Infant paracetamol or infant ibuprofen may be available over the counter to help alleviate baby teeth problems, but it is always better to consult your doctor before self- medicating. You can learn more about how to soothe teething symptoms without medication here.

How Long will Teething Last?

There is no set date for teething. Just as it can start any time after 3 months, it can continue for a year or more. You also cannot determine how long it will take for a tooth to break through the gums. The good news though is that the teething symptoms will usually be the worst initially, for the first few teeth and then will start to become milder as the other teeth may come through more easily.