Facts to know when your child is teething

  • Deciduous (baby) teeth begin to form about six weeks after your baby is conceived.
  • Your baby is born with all 20 deciduous (baby) teeth present in their jawbones.
  • Their permanent teeth also begin to develop before birth. 
  • The timing when teeth appear varies from child to child.
  • The first tooth erupts between 6-10 months, although some babies have no teeth until their first birthday or even later. 
  • The lower two front teeth (central incisors) usually come through before the upper ones. 
  • The teeth generally come through in pairs - one on the right, one on the left side. 
  • By 2½-3 years all 20 baby teeth generally have erupted.

How do I know teething is the problem?

Teething can cause sensitive and painful gums, along with mouth ulcerations. This can result in crying, difficulties with feeding and sleepless nights for babies and parents.

Typical teething symptoms include:

  • Increased fussiness, crying
  • Red swollen gums
  • Excessive dribbling
  • Pulling on their ear
  • Constant chewing on fingers
  • Increased demand for the breast or bottle
  • Rejection of the breast or bottle due to sucking pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Interrupted sleep

Teething is also readily blamed for a multitude of childhood illnesses. It's difficult to tell if other symptoms such as fever or cold-like symptoms are caused by teething but it's unlikely. Often teething coincides with a child becoming more social and coming into contact with other children and germs, resulting in a cold or other infection.

How can I help ease teething pain?

There are steps you can take to ease the pain associated with teething:

  • Massage gums - if your child likes it, massage gums gently with a wet finger.
  • Teething rings - cool in the fridge first (not the freezer as ths makes them too cold and hard).
  • Preventing rashes - wipe dribble regularly to prevent rash on the cheeks and apply a barrier cream (such as a cream for nappy rash)
  • Food for chewing - give a cooled carrot and let your child find the sore spot.
  • Teething gel - rub a little teething gel onto the gums for soothing relief. You'll find teething gel at your pharmacy.
  • Paracetamol or lbuprofen - if fever is present