When your bub cuts their first tooth, it’s a major milestone – not to mention the start of cute toothy grins. But how do you know when to expect their teeth to come through?
Here, Dr Daniel Golshevsky – paediatrician at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital – answers the most common teething questions...
Q. When does teething begin?
A. ‘Teething describes the breaking through of “milk” teeth from the gums, which occurs between the ages of six and 24 months,’ says Dr Golshevsky. ‘While teething typically starts from six months, it can start as early as three months or as late as 14 months, and neither is concerning.’
Q. What order do they come through?
A. The bottom two front teeth, the lower central incisors, usually appear first. The top four front teeth, known as the upper central and upper lateral incisors, are next. Teeth will then gradually appear throughout the mouth, usually emerging in pairs until the final rear molars grow through at around two years of age. By three, your child will have a full set of primary ‘baby’ teeth. These will last until between the ages of five and seven, while the back molars can last until around 12 years.
Q. What are the common first signs?
A. ‘Teeth typically move through the gum in a stop-start fashion, so symptoms are intermittent and are usually at their worst four days prior to the actual eruption through the gum,’ explains Dr Golshevsky. Fever, discomfort, loose bowel actions, poor feeding, dribbling, oral rash and a tendency to bite are the most common symptoms.
Q. How do I relieve my baby's pain?
A. ‘The first step is gentle rubbing on the gum, providing your child with a cooled teething ring, or a cold, wet face washer to gnaw on,’ Dr Golshevsky suggests. ‘If a child’s pain is associated with other symptoms and a fever, parents shouldn’t dismiss this as it may be because they have an infection or another illness.’ Remember, it’s always best to take your baby in for a check-up with your doctor and to talk about oral medication.
Q. How do I look after bub,s teeth once they start appearing?
A. Dr Golshevsky recommends parents commence brushing their baby’s teeth from the first moment a tooth appears. ‘Teeth need to be cleaned twice a day and children should use a soft-bristled toothbrush with water alone. As an alternative, parents could use a face washer to gently clean new teeth. And low- fluoride toothpaste can be used from 18 months, but always encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste and not swallow after brushing,’ he says.