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Health & Baby

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Teething - Topic Overview

What is teething?

Your baby is teething when his or her first set of teeth, called primary teeth camera.gif, break through the gums.

When does teething typically start?

Teething usually begins around 6 months of age. But it is normal for teething to start at any time between 3 months and 12 months of age. By the time your child is about 3 years old, he or she will have all 20 primary teeth.

The lower front teeth usually come in first. Upper front teeth usually come in 1 to 2 months after the lower front teeth. See a picture that shows when the primary teeth come in camera.gif.

What are the symptoms?

Some babies are fussier than usual when they are teething. This may be because of soreness and swelling in the gums before a tooth comes through. These symptoms usually begin about 3 to 5 days before the tooth shows, and they disappear as soon as the tooth breaks the skin. Many babies don't seem to be affected by teething.

Babies may bite on their fingers or toys to help relieve the pressure in their gums. They may also refuse to eat and drink because their mouths hurt.

Many babies drool during teething, which can cause a rash on the chin, face, or chest.

Mild symptoms that get better usually are nothing to worry about. Call your doctor if your baby's symptoms are severe or don't get better.

How can you help your baby be more comfortable while teething?

Here are some tips to help your baby feel better while teething:

  • Use a clean finger (or cold teething ring) to gently rub your baby's gum for about 2 minutes at a time. Many babies find this soothing, although they may protest at first.
  • Provide safe objects for your baby to chew on, such as teething rings.
  • If needed, give your baby an over-the-counter pain reliever that is labeled for his or her specific age. Read and follow all instructions. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20, because it has been linked to Reye syndrome, a rare but serious disease.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against using teething gel on a baby's gums to reduce pain. The gel can make a baby's throat numb. This may cause difficulty swallowing. The medicine in the gel may also harm a baby.

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