Expert Teething Advice

No doubt about it: Cutting a new tooth is painful for Baby -- and you. Luckily, we have the answers to your biggest teething questions from some top experts.

  • Soothe a Teething Baby with the Teething Cookie
    Soothe a Teething Baby with the Teething Cookie

    Getting Teeth

    When do babies typically start getting teeth in -- and how long does it take for all the teeth to come in?

    Starting at around 3 months of age, infants begin to show outward signs that baby teeth are coming. They produce more saliva and will put their fingers in their mouths. This drooling can go on for several weeks before you'll see a tooth. Infants typically get their first tooth between ages 5 and 12 months. The bottom incisors emerge first, followed by the top incisors. Usually around 2 years of age, a toddler has a full set of teeth, explains Dr. Edward Kulich of New York, NY.

  • Just Cranky?

    How do I know if my baby is teething -- or just being cranky or sick?

    Parents know firsthand that teething can make your baby cranky and even cause a mild fever. However, any temperature above 101 degrees is likely from an infection rather than teething. "If an infant has a temperature, excessive irritability, decreased eating, increased sleeping, or other symptoms such as vomiting, a cough, or a rash, it is unlikely that teething is the culprit," Edward Kulich, MD says. "If your infant is experiencing such symptoms, or the irritability is excessive, you should touch base with your pediatrician."

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    Nighttime Pain

    My daughter's teething symptoms seem to be worse at night. Why is that?

    While there is no specific medical reason for why your baby's teething seems to get worse at night, many parents do notice an increase in discomfort during the evening hours. "It seems worse at night because they are tired, and during the day they are awake and playing and have things to distract them from the pain," says Dr. Gaurav Gupta, pediatrics expert on JustAnswer.com.

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    Drooling Leads to Rash

    My son drools so much from teething that it's causing a rash on his chin. What can I do?

    The constant contact with saliva can cause the skin around the chin and mouth to become irritated. "Apply some Vaseline (white petroleum jelly) to reduce the contact of the saliva with the tender skin. Also, do not rub the saliva off the chin -- just pat-dry gently to avoid a friction-induced, worsening rash," Dr. Gupta says.

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    Pain Reliever

    Which medicine is best to relieve teething pain: Tylenol or Motrin?

    Teething can be uncomfortable as little teeth poke their way through sensitive gums ... ouch! "I recommend giving an appropriate dose of acetaminophen along with a cool teething ring," says Dr. Tanya Remer Altmann of Los Angeles, co-editor of Caring for Your Baby and Young Child. "Popsicles work well for toddlers and are a fun treat! For infants over 6 months of age, an appropriate amount of acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used as needed for pain. Which one? Whichever you have in your medicine cabinet or whichever your child prefers since most uncomfortable toddlers seem to have a preference for flavor."

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    Natural Soothers

    What natural remedies can I use to help my baby's teething pain?

    Unfortunately, there have been very few studies on what remedies -- natural or otherwise -- are truly effective for the pain associated with teething, says Dr. Michael McKenna, pediatrician at Indiana University School of Medicine. "For most infants, nonmedicinal therapies such as chewing on cool washcloths, frozen teething rings, and other such items is usually enough to ease the pain. If you feel your baby needs something more, acetaminophen usually does the trick. If not, it is important to discuss this with your doctor, as something more than teething may be going on." Also, it's very important to avoid these unsafe practices: Never give your infant alcohol of any kind, even topically. Also, while some people tout the benefits of clove oil, it can burn your baby's gums and skin, so avoid this as well.

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    Fever

    Is it really normal for a baby to run a fever when teething?

    This is a topic that is surprisingly controversial. "Recent research points seem to confirm that some symptoms, including fever around 101 degrees Fahrenheit, may be associated with teething," Dr. Michael McKenna says. "However, it is important to note that there was no association with high fevers (those greater than 102 degrees Fahrenheit), and that around a third of teething infants had no symptoms. Whether your child is teething, it is still a good idea to call your child's doctor for further advice."

  • Care

    Once my baby starts getting teeth in, what is the best way to care for them?

    Once that first tooth appears, gently wipe it off twice a day with a soft cloth or infant tooth brush, recommends Dr. Tanya Remer Altmann. "You do not need toothpaste at this stage. Around 1 year of age, gently brush your child's teeth with a soft toothbrush and a tiny bit of nonfluoride toothpaste. Some pediatric dentists may recommend a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste for some toddlers. Around age 1 is also a good time to check in with a pediatric dentist."

    Copyright © 2010 Meredith Corporation.