Medically reviewed by Dr. Eisen

Baby Teeth 101: 7 Fascinating Facts You Should Know About First Teeth

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What first-time parent doesn’t have questions about baby teeth? It makes sense to want to know what to expect, how your baby is feeling, the things you can do to make teething a little easier, and what you can do to protect those baby teeth until it’s time for them to go away and be replaced with permanent teeth.

Here are several important facts that you should know about your baby’s teeth. Along with some helpful information that helps you understand how baby teeth come in, you’ll also get some tips on how to ensure your child’s teeth remain healthy and provide the basis for developing solid dental hygiene habits for the years to come. Put this best baby teething advice to good use and everyone in the family, including your child, will be a lot happier.

When to Expect the First Baby Teeth

How soon will the first baby teeth appear? While there is some variance between one infant and the next, parents can generally expect the first teeth to emerge somewhere between six months and a year.

Don’t be overly concerned if it’s getting to around the tenth month and your child has not shown any signs of teething. Do feel free to take your infant to the dentist and have the gums checked during this period. After the exam is completed, the dentist will likely be able to provide a good estimate of when the first tooth will show up.

Although There Are Exceptions

While it’s true that most babies have their first teeth emerge during the second half of the first year, that’s not the case with all newborns. While it’s rare, there are instances in which babies are born with at least one tooth already emerged. This is not a cause for concern, and it doesn’t mean there will be complications when the other teeth begin to appear.

How common is this type of event? Some studies indicate that one out of every 3,000 newborns make their appearance with a single tooth already visible.

Certain Teeth Come First

Which teeth are likely to erupt first? Most of the time, you can expect the front teeth known as incisors to show up first. In quick succession, you will likely see the two lower incisors come in first and then the two upper ones. The rest will come in at a slower pace.

It could take up to three years for all of the baby teeth to appear. All in all, there are usually 20 baby teeth. That number remains constant until they are dislodged by the emergence of the permanent teeth. Remember that your child could be as old as 13 before every last baby tooth is replaced by a permanent one. Your child will also have 32 permanent teeth rather than the 20 baby teeth.

Signs Of Teething

There are several common signs your baby is teething. Irritability is easily one of the most common, The process of teeth erupting from the gums is uncomfortable. Expect your baby to exhibit that discomfort by becoming fussier and more easily upset.

Your baby is likely to chew on things more often. This is a natural attempt to ease some of the itchiness and other discomfort that comes with teething. Even if your baby does not seem to be fussier than usual, noticing that the infant is chewing and biting on toys or even the fingers is a sign that some pressure is present and your baby is attempting to ease that pressure.

Sucking with more force is also a common sign. This may manifest while still breast or bottle feeding. The baby may also begin to pull on the ears or not want to eat anything that irritates the gums. Given the discomfort, your baby may have a harder time getting to sleep.

Talk with your dentist about what to rub on the gums to ease some of the discomfort. Something cool applied to the gums may also help. Consider refrigerating a teething ring or even using a clean cold washcloth to gently rub the gums. If you do notice that they seem to be unusually red, have a dentist take a look.

Some Teeth Hurt More Than Others

Which teeth are most painful for babies? That will vary somewhat. It’s not unusual for the incisors that emerge first to cause the most distress for the baby. At this point, your baby has no idea of what’s happening. As more teeth emerge once the child is walking and talking, a tooth coming in is no longer a new experience and may be easier for your child to manage.

Keep in mind there are babies who have relatively little pain with the emergence of front teeth, but end up experiencing a lot of discomfort when the first molars begin to appear. It’s quite possible for your child to have no more than minor discomfort with some teeth erupting while having a lot of pain with others.

Fevers Are Normal During Teething

Why do babies get fevers when teething? It’s usually related to the pressure in the days just before and just after a tooth erupts. Generally, only a slight increase in temperature takes place. Knowing how to soothe a teething baby with the use of cold is typically enough to manage the discomfort.

You’ll find baby teething fever remedies abound. If you ask your dentist how to break a teething fever, the answer is likely to be to give the child ibuprofen or acetaminophen that’s specially formulated for children. Cold teething rings may help too. A cold compress on the head for no more than 20 minutes at a time is also helpful.

Beware of baby teething fever remedies that are more anecdotal than backed by medical fact. For example, herbs that are fine for adults who need to manage teeth pain until they can get to a dentist are not always appropriate for babies. Talk to your dentist about ways to handle

teething fever at night or during the daytime and get ideas that are specifically designed to alleviate toddler teething fever.

Baby Teeth and Cavities

One more aspect of baby teething remedies that you should consider is your baby’s oral health. In order to minimize the potential for cavities that are already present when the teeth erupt, do make it a point to clean the gums after feeding time. You can use a tiny amount of a fluoride toothpaste for this. Choose a flavor that seems to appeal to your child. It’s fine to use a clean finger for the application. Remember to use a clean wet cloth to wipe away any excess once you’re done. This will do for now until your infant is old enough to get the idea of rinsing out the mouth.

Remember that consulting with a pediatric dentist from infancy on is a smart move. If you notice anything that seems to cause concern of appears to be a little outside the norm, it never hurts to check with the dentist. The ultimate goal is to ensure those baby teeth are healthy, straight, and remain so right up to the time the permanent teeth begin to emerge.

Even if everything seems to go smoothly, take your infant in for periodic dental checkups. This helps to instill the habit of seeing a dentist from time to time and helps your child to feel less intimidated when it’s time for a cleaning or some other procedure. It will also help the dentist to be a welcome sight when those baby teeth begin to loosen and the permanent teeth start to arrive.

Andrea Galick

Andrea Galick is an accomplished Dental Hygienist (RDH) with a passion for helping patients achieve optimal oral health. Andrea has built a reputation as a caring and skilled practitioner who puts her patients at ease and provides individualized care that meets their unique needs.

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