The process where the milk teeth of an infant grow out through their gums is known as teething (odontiasis). The teeth do not cut through the flesh but come out when some cells in the gum are killed by certain hormones released in the body.
It may begin as early as three months or as late as a year. Most babies are six to seven months old when they start teething.
The first set of teeth comes in between six and seven months while the molar erupt at 12 or 14 months of age. The babies have all their 20 primary teeth when they are 3 years old.
The pain may subside in few days or may last even longer in some babies. It pains a lot when the molars come out as they are located at the back of the mouth occupying a bigger surface area.
With the first set of teeth emerging through the gums, certain physical and behavioral changes are observed in most babies.
Drooling or dribbling: Excessive saliva secretion or drooling often results in rashes on the face, chest or chin.
Mild fever: Teething might be accompanied by a slight rise in body temperature. However, according to several experts including the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, any fever rising above 102°F is not a result of teething.
Pulling of ears: Infants tend to pull or rub their ears or the region around their cheek when the molars are about to come out to get relief from pain.
Swollen gums and soreness: As the tooth goes on to move below the surface of the gum tissues, the region becomes red and swollen, leading to soreness and pain. The gums may also darken at times due to swelling.
Red or flushing cheeks: The area where the tooth is going to erupt becomes red.
People have often associated certain symptoms like diarrhea, cold, cough, vomiting, runny nose with teething, which is completely incorrect. According to experts, the logical cause behind loose stool during teething is that babies swallow the excess saliva which in turn accumulates in their intestine, upsetting their stomach.
Most parents feel that their babies also get diaper rash while their tooth is about to come out. However, the main cause of the rash is skin irritation resulting from the alteration of the pH value in urine during this time.
|Teeth type||Number||Emerges (In months)|
|Lower Central incisors||2||4 to 7 months|
|Upper central incisors||2||8 to 12 months|
|Upper lateral incisors||2||9 to 13 months|
|Lower lateral incisors||2||10 to 16 months|
|Upper first molars||2||13 to 19 months|
|Lower first molars||2||14 to 18 months|
|Canines||4||16 to 23 months|
|Second molars||4||24 to 36 months|
The tooth buds of babies are formed when they are in their mother’s womb.Their teething pattern is hereditary, with girls getting their milk teeth faster than boys. Some babies have crooked teeth which may not be permanent.
Newborns are sometimes born with teeth, known as natal teeth, which is very rare, occurring in one out of 3000 live births. But, it is taken out before the baby is discharged from the hospital to avoid any serious complications.
If your baby is not relieved by the home remedies then certain pain relieving medicines like Acetaminophen(Tylenol) and Ibuprofen might be given. However, it is highly recommended to consult a doctor as the dosage varies on basis of their age and weight. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under six months of age are not to be given Ibuprofen, which may cause stomach irritation whereas taking too much of Tylenol can lead to liver problem.
Pain relieving gels and sprays are not to be applied to the infant’s gum as most of them contain Benzocaine (local anesthetic), which according to FDA has the risk of causing a life- threatening condition, methemoglobinemia. Avoid giving aspirin in any form as it has the risk of developing Reye’s syndrome (a fatal syndrome mainly affecting the brain and liver).
It is safe to refer to a pediatrician before trying any homeopathic remedy.
Even before the baby’s teeth erupts oral care should be taken by cleaning the gums with a clean, wet cloth. After the teeth set in, brushing it by using fluoride paste on a soft brush having a small head and a large handle, helps to keep it clean. Consult a dentist or your pediatrician before doing the same.
Published on March 4th 2015 by Pregmed Editorial Team.
Article was last reviewed on 6th March 2015.