When do teeth start to appear?

Q: I think my baby is teething. How long before they pop up?

A: You can tell if your child is teething by taking a look in her mouth. Sometimes you might be able to see or feel teeth just under the gum (like those first front teeth); other times (like with molars) the gums may become red, swollen, and harder than usual. How long it takes for the teeth to actually break through the gums varies; it can be anywhere from a few weeks to as long as six or eight weeks. Teeth tend to move slowly and inconsistently, and it's normal for them to be active for a few days and then stop moving for weeks.

Cutting teeth can be painful for many babies, although some don't seem to suffer much at all. You may notice that your baby is drooling a lot more and sleeping inconsistently. She may lose her appetite, run a low-grade fever, and get flushed cheeks while she's teething. Unfortunately there's not a whole lot you can do to help, except be very loving and understanding if the pain is waking your baby up at night. A frozen teething ring can help since it numbs the gums and dulls the pain for a while. Products like Orajel may help temporarily, but it's important to use them sparingly so your child doesn't swallow them. If your child is having a particularly painful night, a little acetaminophen may do the trick.

Once your child's first teeth appear, clean them daily with a small, soft toothbrush. You probably won't need to use toothpaste until she's around 2, but check with your pediatrician for more specific recommendations for your child.

Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.


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