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By Megann Sauer, M.D.

​​The need for a bib and a little more cuddling with your baby may mean that he/she has some little chompers coming in. Commonly referred to as “cutting teeth,” babies typically begin teething by the time they reach 6 months of age, although this can vary. They usually have a full mouth of baby teeth around age 2​½.

The two bottom front teeth (lower central incisors) are usually the first to come in, followed soon after by the two top front teeth (upper central incisors). The rest will follow as your baby ages.


Classic Signs and Symptoms

Some parents say that teething can cause diarrhea and fever, but many researchers have refuted that claim. Here are some signs to help you identify when your baby is teething:

  • Drooling
  • Chewing on solid objects
  • Irritability or crankiness
  • Sore or tender gums
  • A slight rise in body temperature (lower than 100°F).

Soothing Sore Gums

As new teeth emerge from the gum line, your baby is going to have tender gums and may fuss. Help alleviate pain by doing the following:

  • Rub your baby’s gums with a clean finger or moistened gauze pad, as pressure can ease discomfort.
  • Give him/her a cold washcloth, spoon or chilled teething ring to chew on.
  • Try an over-the-counter remedy: if your baby is especially cranky, consider using ibuprofen (Advil, Children’s Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
  • The FDA recommends NOT using homeopathic gels or tablets, as they may pose health risks.

It’s also important to keep your baby’s chin dry from drool, as it may cause soreness and chafing. Use a bib or towel to wipe it dry, and use some scent-free moisturizer if the skin becomes chapped.

Dental Care for Baby Teeth

Keep your baby’s mouth clean from the get-go by rubbing a damp, clean washcloth over the gums daily as this may help keep bacteria at bay.

When the first teeth emerge, switch to a small, soft toothbrush. Until your baby learns to spit, apply a small smear of fluoride toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice. You should also start thinking about scheduling regular check-ups with your dentist; at least one visit should be scheduled before the first birthday.