On average, a baby's first tooth appears in the seventh month, but it can show up as early as 3 months or as late as 1 year of age. After the first breakthrough, another new tooth will appear about every six weeks. Usually, the two bottom front teeth are the first to emerge from the gums, followed by the two top front teeth. By the time that she's 2 years old, your little one will probably have cut all 20 of her baby teeth.
Unlike the actual pearly whites, the symptoms of teething will now appear overnight. Even if your baby has yet to flash a tooth, she's probably exhibiting the painful signs of its growth. Baby's annoyances with the growth of her teeth begin two or three months before their arrival. She may chew on her toys or fingers, act irritable, and develop redness and puffiness where the tooth is coming in. Keep in mind that your baby's desire to put everything in her mouth-paired with her improving mobility at this age-means that it's more important than ever to keep potentially hazardous items, such as electrical cords and house plants, out of her reach.
For years, grandmothers have blamed teething for sleeping difficulties, colds, diarrhea, diaper rash, even fever. But since babies are teething nearly one-third of their lives, doctors have had trouble determining whether these symptoms are related. They may, in fact, simply be conditions that the infant would have developed in any case. Recent studies provide some support for Grandma's point of view: Researchers pinpointed a gradual climb in average body temperature (from 98.6 to 99.7 degrees) that occurred three days before a new tooth erupted. However, a fever that is higher than 101degrees is more likely to be caused by an infection and requires the immediate attention of your pediatrician.
Though doctors don't agree on the level of pain that teething causes, or its related symptoms, it's quite clear that the pressure of a tooth pushing through the gums causes most babies some level of discomfort. Since teeth alternately grow and then rest, a teething baby may feel pain off and on for up to several weeks before a tooth actually emerges.
The best way to relieve teething pain is to give your baby something cold and firm to chew on-the hard surface provides relief through counterpressure; the coldness numbs the gums. Try offering refrigerated (but never frozen) water-filled teethers or a cold, wet washcloth. Acetaminophen will relieve persistent pain, but since teething discomfort often passes quickly, it may not always be effective. Over-the-counter teething ointments, which contain a local painkiller, may be more helpful than acetaminophen, but consult your doctor before using any of these medications on your baby's tender gums.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.