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What is teething?

Teething is the process of teeth growing and breaking through the gums. This is a normal developmental stage for your baby.

A baby's first tooth usually appears between the ages of 5 and 7 months. Some babies get their first tooth a little earlier and others a little later. Often, the 2 middle bottom teeth come through the gums first, followed by the middle 4 upper teeth. By the time children are 30 months (2.5 years) old, all 20 baby teeth are usually present.

What are the signs and symptoms of teething?

The following are the most common signs and symptoms of teething:

  • Drooling more than usual (drooling may start as early as three or four months of age, but is not always a sign of teething)

  • Constantly putting fingers or fists in the mouth (babies like to chew on things whether or not they are teething)

  • Swollen, or puffy area on gum

  • Fussiness or crankiness

Teething does not cause colds, rashes, diarrhea, or fever, but it can make a baby uncomfortable. If your baby becomes sick around the same time teeth are coming in, or seems to be cranky or fussy for longer than normal, it is important to evaluate the symptoms of that illness independently of the teething. Call your child's healthcare provider for advice if your baby is sick.

How can you help your child with the discomforts of teething?

If your baby is cranky with teething, try giving him or her hard rubber toys, teething rings, or cold teething toys to chew on. Do not freeze teething toys or rings as these can hurt your baby's gums. You can also rub your baby's gum with your clean finger. Teething gels may not be helpful as they are quickly washed off if excessive drooling is present, which may cause the effect of the gels to be short-lived. Something cold on the gums usually soothes and numbs the gums better. Ask your baby's healthcare provider about pain-relieving medicine for teething.