How to Manage the Teething Stage

Did your little one just start teething? Learn how to manage the discomfort of this major milestone.
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Watch for the signs.

Around 4 months, your infant’s saliva production will increase and he’ll mouth everything within reach. His two bottom front teeth probably won’t emerge until around 6 months, followed four to eight weeks later by the two top front teeth. After that, he should get one or two new teeth each month until he has all 20 primary teeth, around age 3.

Teething shouldn’t cause high fever or diarrhea. However, he’s chewing on items to massage his gums, so it’s easy for him to pick up germs. While teeth are erupting, his gums may look swollen or he may develop a bluish-red bump called an eruption hematoma. The area might look bruised, but it’s generally not painful.

Soothe her gums.

When a tooth begins to break through, it puts pressure on the gums. To provide relief, wet a washcloth, wring out the water, and put it in the fridge or freezer to chill. Rubber teethers also work, but some that are liquid filled can get too hard and bruise your baby’s already sensitive mouth (they usually say “do not freeze” on the package). Your baby may also like you to massage her gums with a finger or a moist gauze pad. If she’s fussy, try giving her a dose of acetaminophen, or ibuprofen if she’s at least 6 months.

Establish healthy habits.

Some babies don’t get their first teeth until after they turn 1. This usually isn’t an issue, but make an appointment with a pediatric dentist to be sure. In fact, all babies should visit the dentist by the time they are 12 months old. You’ll discuss issues like teething and fluoride toothpaste, go over how pacifiers, thumb-sucking, and bottles can affect his teeth, and learn proper cleaning methods—all important for maintaining a healthy mouth.

Sources: Joel Berg, D.D.S., professor emeritus, pediatric dentistry, University of Washington; Steven Chussid, D.D.S., director of pediatric dentistry at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, in New York City.

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