How can I help my child through the teething stage?


A cranky, fussy baby. Aching gums. Sleepless nights. Lots of tears (and the baby may not be the only one who wants to cry!). Welcome to the world of teething.

If you’ve experienced the teething stage as a parent before, you know exactly what we’re talking about. If this is your first time, buckle up–you’re about to embark on a challenging experience, but one that is a natural part of your infant’s growth and development.

Your child will get through the teething stage in a few years, so there is light (and a great smile) at the end of the tunnel. Southmoor Pediatric Dentistry is here to help you every step of the way.

What does teething mean?

Your baby was born with all 20 primary (“baby”) teeth right below their gumline. The first tooth typically appears between 6-12 months of age, although it can happen earlier or later. Some babies are even born with a tooth already present, although it’s very rare.

Teething is a term for the process that infants go through as their teeth break through their gums. By the time your child is three years old, they should have their full set of 20 baby teeth–so there will be a lot of changes in your child’s mouth for the first few years of their life.

How can I tell if my baby is teething?

Some classic symptoms of teething include:

  • Irritability or crankiness
  • Sore or tender gums
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Excessive drooling
  • Chewing on toys and other objects
  • Lack of appetite
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Low-grade temperature (100 F or below)

Teething symptoms are usually most present on the days before a new tooth erupts, then subside until another tooth starts to come in.

What can I expect during the teething process?

Your child’s baby teeth will break through their gums in stages during the teething process. Typically, the bottom front teeth come in first, followed by the top front teeth.

The rest of their baby teeth will break through your child’s gums over the next 2-3 years. Some children have all their baby teeth by the time they turn two, but most are not finished until age three.

What should I do (and NOT do) to help my child feel better?

The pediatric specialists at Southmoor Pediatric Dentistry see a lot of young patients in the midst of teething and offer these suggestions to help ease your child’s pain:

  • Gently rub their gums with a damp washcloth or gauze pad
  • Chill a teething ring in the refrigerator and give it to them to chew (avoid liquid-filled teething rings or plastic objects that could break)
  • Use a bib to catch their drool and keep their chin dry
  • Avoid using teething gels that contain salicylate or benzocaine, such as Orajel, until your child is at least two years old
  • In place of teething gel, give your child liquid acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce pain and discomfort
  • If your child is old enough, encourage them to chew harder foods like cold fruit and vegetables to soothe aching gums

There are also several teething remedies that can harm your child and should be avoided. Never:

  • Give them baby aspirin or rub it on their gums
  • Use alcohol on their gums (despite any stories you might hear from grandparents!)
  • Put frozen objects directly on their gums
  • Use teething necklaces or bracelets or allow them to chew on hard plastic toys (all of which are choking hazards)
  • Use homeopathic teething tablets

The teething stage can be difficult, but Southmoor Pediatric Dentistry is here to give you guidance and support whenever you need it. We’ll get your child (and you) through this together!

Schedule an appointment today

It’s important to start caring for your child’s teeth as soon as the first one breaks through. Their baby teeth will have to last several years before they’re replaced with adult teeth–so the sooner we can begin preventing tooth decay, the better.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends bringing your child to a pediatric dentist for their first visit at age one. We’re excited to meet you and begin monitoring your child’s smile. From the teething stage to teen stage, you can count on Southmoor Pediatric Dentistry to provide your child with expert dental care. Contact us for an appointment today!