There are a lot of exciting milestones in your baby’s growth and development. There’s when they roll over for the first time. Then crawling, their first step, their first word, and on and on. And one of the biggest events is when your baby’s smile starts to turn into a toothy grin.
But when do babies get their first tooth? Do teeth come in a certain order? How do you soothe a baby’s sore gums?
Below, we answer these questions, explain other teething symptoms and answer common questions about cleaning baby teeth.
At what age do babies start teething?
The average age for a baby’s first tooth to come in is around 6 months old, but every child is different. Girls’ teeth usually come in a little earlier than boys’ do. But by 3 years old, most kids have all of their primary or “baby” teeth.
How many baby teeth do kids have?
Children have a total of 20 primary teeth.
What order do baby teeth come in?
Baby teeth don’t always come in the same order for each kiddo. There are typical ranges for when certain teeth come in or “erupt,” but those ranges overlap. For example, many babies get their bottom central incisors sometime between 6 months old and 10 months old, and their top central incisors between 8 months old and 12 months old.
Baby teeth chart
Again, the exact timing and order that babies’ teeth come in can vary. But here’s when they generally tend to come in:
- Bottom central incisors: 6-10 months
- Top central incisors: 8-12 months
- Bottom lateral incisors: 10-16 months
- Top lateral incisors: 9-13 months
- Bottom canines: 17-23 months
- Top canines: 16-22 months
- Bottom first molars: 14-18 months
- Top first molars: 13-19 months
- Bottom second molars: 23-31 months
- Top second molars: 25-33 months
How do I know if my baby is teething? Watch for these baby teething symptoms
Not all babies show signs of teething. But common teething symptoms can include:
- Increased fussiness
- Increased drooling, which can cause coughing and lead to a rash on baby’s face, chin or chest
- Chewing or gnawing on objects
- Rubbing their cheek or ear
- A low-grade fever (less than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
Usually, signs of teething will start a few days before a new tooth comes in, and go away once it has.
Is teething painful for babies?
Some babies will experience discomfort or pain while teething, which helps explain some of the teething symptoms you’ll notice. Gum soreness and swelling can lead to fussiness, or cause your little one to rub their cheeks or chew on anything they can get their hands on. The good news is that most discomfort will pass quickly.
Which are the most painful teeth for babies as they come in?
Typically, the first teeth to come in are the most uncomfortable for babies, as the feeling of a tooth coming in is new and unfamiliar. The molars can also be painful because they’re larger than other teeth.
When to talk to a doctor about teething concerns
Again, teething symptoms are usually mild and improve in a couple of days. But talk to your child’s doctor if:
- Symptoms are prolonged or get more severe (such as constant irritability or especially aggressive chewing)
- Your child has a fever higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit
- Your child gets diarrhea alongside teething symptoms
How to soothe baby’s gums during teething
If your baby is showing signs of discomfort when they’ve got a tooth coming in, there are a few different things you can do to make them more comfortable.
- Wipe away drool from their chin regularly – This can help prevent skin irritation and rashes.
- Massage your baby’s gums – You can simply use a clean finger or chilled teething ring.
- Give your baby a cold washcloth or chilled teething toy to chew on – If your baby has already been introduced to solid foods that can be chilled, you can also use those. Only use a fridge to chill things (rather than the freezer), and don’t use toys that have liquid in them.
- Talk with your child’s doctor about over-the-counter pain relievers – Medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help relieve pain and inflammation. Just make sure you’re using one that is meant for babies, and you follow all the instructions on the label.
Don’t try to relieve your baby’s symptoms with teething gels or teething tablets, as they may contain harmful ingredients. If you have questions about a method or teething product that isn’t listed above, talk to your child’s doctor.
Baby oral care: Answers to frequently asked questions
With the arrival of teeth comes the need to keep them clean. Here’s what to know to get your baby’s dental health off to a good start.
When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?
Start brushing as soon as the first tooth has come in.
How do I brush my baby’s teeth?
Use a small, soft toothbrush or washcloth twice a day. Start with water or a fluoride-free training toothpaste. Once your child is around 3 years old, you can start using small amounts of fluoride toothpaste.
Flossing should start when your child has teeth that have come in next to each other. If regular floss is too tricky, try using a floss pick.
Why do I need to brush my baby’s teeth?
Even though baby teeth will fall out, they’re still important. Healthy baby teeth support the health, spacing and alignment of the permanent teeth that come in after them. And getting your child used to regular brushing early on will help them form good oral hygiene habits.
Plus, tooth decay can start at a very young age. Children with tooth decay are more likely to have ear and sinus infections, and develop conditions like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Healthy teeth help children speak quickly and clearly, too, which can give them more confidence as they grow up.
What else can I do to keep my baby’s teeth healthy?
If your child is still nursing or drinking a bottle at bedtime or overnight, talk with their doctor about when it makes sense to wean them from these feedings. This is because the sugars in your own milk or formula can sit on your baby’s teeth for prolonged periods of time overnight.
Most babies are able to sleep through the night without needing to eat sometime between 4 and 6 months old. And once they’re around 12 months old, nighttime bottles before bed can usually be stopped as well.
You can also take steps to reduce or discourage pacifier use or thumb sucking. Pacifiers specifically can be helpful early in your child’s development. They can provide comfort and have even been shown to reduce the risk of SIDs. But as your child gets older, pacifiers – and aggressive thumb sucking – can cause issues with tooth alignment.
When does my baby need to visit the dentist?
Along with brushing and flossing, regular dental visits are key to your baby’s dental health. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that kids see a dentist by their first birthday, or within 6 months of their first tooth coming in.
During these visits, the dentist will examine your child’s soft tissues, gums and jaws. The earlier your child sees a dentist, the more likely they are to have good oral health in the future.