While most babies begin teething around six months, that first baby tooth can appear anytime between three and fourteen months. Teeth usually come in pairs, starting with the bottom front two and followed by the top front two. Your baby’s primary pearly whites should be complete by age three, and permanent teeth will start to come in between ages four and six.
What ate the Signs of teething?
Needing to chew on things.
The pressure of a tooth coming out from the gums is often relieved by more pressure so babies with teeth just under the surface will often want to gnaw and chew on things. They particularly like hard things so our fabulous new teething rings are perfect as they give a great hard ring to have a chew and they are easy to hold with the soft material. You will notice your baby starts putting their hands in their mouth a lot and whenever they have something in their hand, that goes for a good chew too! So, watch out for this and make sure you have handy and most importantly safe chew toys around.
Before a new tooth erupts, it can cause a red, swollen, bruised-looking area on a baby’s gums. Sometimes the gum bulges with the emerging tooth, which you can see faintly beneath the skin (if you can convince your baby to open his mouth for long enough).
Lots of dribbling
Increased drool can often tell you a new tooth is on its way—but it’s also a normal developmental stage of infancy, so don’t assume that drooling means teething every time. There’s no way to tell whether your baby’s saliva is the result of teething or not but most babies will start to dribble a lot more when their teeth are coming through. Make sure you keep them as comfortable as possible by preventing painful dribble rash by popping on a bandana bib!
Lots more fussing
Unfortunately, this normally happens at night, sorry new mums and dads! Tooth eruption, when the tooth moves through the bone and gum, tends to come in stages, with more activity at night than during the day, so your baby may be more irritable in the evening and the pain can often stop them sleeping. Don’t worry, it doesn’t last forever!
Pulling on their ears
Tugging on their ears can be a symptom of teething as the pain from their jaw gets transferred to the ear canal. However, this can also be a sign of an ear infection so best get it checked with your health visitor or doctor.
Changes in their eating habits
Babies who are on solids may want to breastfeed or bottle feed more as this will more soothing and spoons may irritate their sore gums. Although just to be contrary, some may do the opposite as they may want to chew on the hard spoon because the counter pressure this provides feels good. Babies that are not on solids yet may still start feeding eagerly but they pull away because the activity of sucking puts uncomfortable pressure on the gums and ear canals.
Since some signs of teething may be signs of illness, if you are worried at all don’t worry about asking the advice of your doctor.
Tips for soothing sore gums
Babies in pain leads to exhausted mums and dads but try not to worry, there are things that will help.
Teething rings. As mentioned before, these are really good at providing the counter pressure which can really help as a tooth is emerging from the gums. Teething rings also provide a safe alternative to the range of dangerous things your baby will try and put in their mouth!
Rubbing your baby’s gums
Make sure you use a clean finger or a flannel for this and gently massage your little one’s gums. This provides relief and also gives them some lovely snuggle time with you which can make them feel better as well. Just watch out for your baby wanting to chew too hard on your fingers, ouch!
Use the cold
Cold things will work really well but be a bit careful with frozen things as this can cause more harm. Cloths kept in the fridge work well. If your baby is on solids you can try freezing soft fruits and vegetables like mango and cucumber. Make sure you thaw these out a little before handing them to your baby and don’t leave them alone while they munch to avoid choking.
Keep them dry
Dribble rash will only exacerbate the problem so make sure you keep your baby dry. Dribble bibs are perfect for this and make sure you have handy burp cloths around too.
When to see your doctor or health visitor
If things get too bad there are some simple over the counter medications you can try. Teething crystals and gels all can be really useful when things get too much for your little one but make sure you follow the professional’s advice about when to use and how much to use.
Looking after your baby’s teeth
Once you notice your child’s teeth coming through it is time to start them on a good brushing routine.
You can start brushing your baby's teeth as soon as they start to come through. Use a baby toothbrush with a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste.
Don't worry if you don't manage to brush much at first. The important thing is to get your baby used to brush their teeth as part of their daily routine. You can help by setting a good example and letting them see you brushing your own teeth.
Often a baby will enjoy having a good chew on a toothbrush, as this will feel good on their sore gums.
Top tips for brushing tiny teeth
Use a tiny smear of toothpaste for babies and toddlers up to 3 years old, and a pea-sized amount for children aged 3 to 6 years.
Gradually start brushing your child's teeth more thoroughly, covering all the surfaces of the teeth. Do it at least twice a day: just before bed and at another time that fits in with your routine.
Not all children like having their teeth brushed, so you may have to keep trying. Make it into a game, or brush your own teeth at the same time and then help your child finish their own. You can even download apps on your phone to make sure your child brushes their teeth for a good amount of time.
The easiest way to brush a baby's teeth is to sit them on your knee, with their head resting against your chest. With an older child, stand behind them and tilt their head backwards.
Brush the teeth in small circles, covering all the surfaces, and encourage your child to spit the toothpaste out afterwards. There's no need to rinse with water, as this will wash away the fluoride.
Supervise brushing to make sure your child gets the right amount of toothpaste and they're not eating or licking toothpaste from the tube. Some parents choose not to use specially flavoured toothpaste designed for children as this will make them keener to eat it. As long as you use the tiniest amount, you can use the same toothpaste you use.
Carry on helping your child brush their teeth until you're sure they can do it well enough themselves. This will normally be until they're at least 7.
Make sure you start taking your child to the dentist regularly so they get used to it. Dentists will often go out of their way to make the experience a good one for your child, rewarding them with stickers. But if they don’t perhaps you could instead, gold stars for keeping their mouth open or maybe a treat to a park or special place afterward. The sooner your child starts going to the dentist the sooner they will get very used to it.
When your little one is a baby it is easy to make sure that they eat very well and completely avoid sugar but as soon as they are on solids they can often develop a taste for all things sweet!
Sugar causes tooth decay. It's not just about the amount of sugar in sweet food and drinks, but how long and how often the teeth are in contact with sugar.
Lollipops and sweet drinks in a formula bottle are particularly damaging, because they bathe the teeth in sugar for long periods of time. The acid in drinks like fruit juice and squash can harm teeth as well.
The sugars found naturally in whole fruit and milk are less likely to cause tooth decay, so you don't need to cut down on these types of sugars.
Tips on avoiding sugar in your child’s diet
These tips will help you reduce the amount of sugar in your child's diet and prevent tooth decay which can lead to more pain and possibly fillings too and even in baby teeth this is not pleasant for your little one.
Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks – the best drinks for young children are their usual milk and water. Little ones really don’t need squash or fizzy drinks and if you want to give them juice give it to them at meal times as this will help prevent the sugar from clinging to the teeth and the extra saliva produced by eating will help protect their teeth.
It's okay to use bottles for expressed breast milk, formula milk, or cooled boiled water. But using them for juices or sugary drinks can increase tooth decay so try to encourage your little one to use a cup when they are old enough.
When your baby starts eating solid foods, encourage them to eat savoury food and drinks with no sugar. Check if there's sugar in pre-prepared baby foods (including the savoury ones), rusks and baby drinks. More and more baby foods now are prepared with no salt and no sugar so they are easy to find, just make sure you check the labels.
If you choose to give your child sweet foods or fruit juice, only give them at mealtimes. Remember to dilute one part juice to 10 parts water. Your child should have no more than one drink of fruit juice (150ml) in any one day as part of their 5 A Day.
Don't give your child too many biscuits or sweets – ask family and friends to do the same. I know grandparents especially love to spoil their grandchildren with sweets and chocolate but try to explain that you are protecting your child’s teeth and they will understand. You don’t need to ban them completely but try and make them an exception rather than the rule.
Offer things like stickers, hair slides, crayons, colouring books and bubbles instead. They may be more expensive than sweets, but they last longer.
At bedtime or during the night, only give your child breast milk, formula or cooled boiled water and make sure they brush their teeth before bed to prevent tartar build up overnight.
If your child needs medicine, ask your pharmacist or GP if there's a sugar-free option. If not or your child won’t take the sugar-free option then don’t worry too much, it is more important that your child gets their medication. You can just rinse out their mouth with water afterward if you are concerned.
Sucrose, glucose, dextrose, maltose, fructose and hydrolyzed starch are all sugars. Inverted sugar or syrup, honey, raw sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, muscovado sugar and concentrated fruit juices are also sugars. My dentist friend despairs of older people who have always had a milk and honey drink before bed as this can really damage their teeth if they don’t brush afterwards so just make sure when your little one has sweet things that they give their teeth a good clean afterwards.
Good dental hygiene practices will protect their teeth for their lifetime so it is great to start as soon as possible.