Dr. Kami Hoss is a member of the American Association of Orthodontists, California Association of Orthodontists, World Federation of Orthodontists, and American Dental Association.
First-time parents will typically have all kinds of questions about their little bundle of joy, including when their baby’s teeth will appear. First things first, did you know that babies already have a full set of 20 primary teeth at birth? Generally, the baby’s teeth will show in pairs, beginning around 6 months of age. However, the timeline is also dependent on when the parents themselves began sprouting teeth when they were a baby.
Baby Teeth and Teething
If you’re a first-time parent, you may notice that around 6 months or so, your baby seems extra-cranky and is drooling excessively. These are normal developments, and are part of the entire process of teething. Aside from drooling, your baby will want to gnaw on everything he/she gets his/her hands on. This is largely due to the pressure of a tooth poking out. In turn, babies will feel the need to counter that pressure by gnawing on something.
Red and swollen gums are also normal among teething babies, so there’s no need to be alarmed if you see your baby’s gums looking a little bruised. Additionally, if your baby seems to be extra-cranky or fussy at night, that could be an effect of the teething process. This is because tooth eruption and activity tends to happen more at night than during the day.
What to Do
If you can get your baby to stay still and open his/her mouth to confirm a few pairs are poking out, there are a few things you can do to help your baby:
First, you may want to hold off on feeding your baby solid food and go back to bottle-feeding, so as not to irritate your baby’s swollen gums. But if your baby seems to have a large appetite, then by all means you can continue with the solids as this is also a way to counter the pressure of a poking tooth.
Second, you can get your baby a teething toy so he/she doesn’t just gnaw on any object which may not even be clean. To relieve some of the swelling of your baby’s gums, you can pop your baby’s teething toy in the refrigerator so it comes out chilled. Just be sure it isn’t frozen or too cold which can be harsh on the gums.
A cold washcloth can also work to soothe pain. Wrap the chilled washcloth around your finger and, if you are able, rub the area where the tooth is poking out to give your baby a soothing massage. If your baby is fussy and won’t hold still, you can skip this teething tip and try to distract your baby instead.
As a parent, you probably don’t recall anymore what teething feels like. While not necessarily painful, it can nonetheless be an uncomfortable experience for your baby. To take his/her mind off what’s happening inside his/her mouth, you can play with him/her, or better yet, cuddle on the sofa. You may be surprised to find that your healing touch as a parent will work wonders.
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