Although newborns usually have no visible teeth, most start developing baby teeth between 4-7 months of age. Children usually have their full set of 20 primary teeth in place by age 3.
As their teeth erupt, some babies may become fussy, sleepless and irritable, lose their appetite or drool more than usual. Diarrhea, rashes and a fever are not normal for a teething baby. If your infant has a fever or diarrhea while teething or continues to be cranky and uncomfortable, call your physician.
How to Soothe a Teething Baby
Your child may have sore or tender gums when teeth begin to erupt. Gently rubbing their gums with a clean finger, a small cool spoon, or a moist gauze pad can be soothing. A clean teething ring for your child to chew on may also help. Your dentist or pediatrician may recommend a pacifier or teething ring.
The Food and Drug Administration recommends that parents and caregivers not use benzocaine products for children younger than 2, except under the advice and supervision of a health care professional. Benzocaine is an over-the-counter anesthetic, usually under the product names Anbesol, Hurricaine, Orajel, Baby Orajel and Orabase. Benzocaine has been associated with a rare but serious—and sometimes fatal—condition called methemoglobinemia, a disorder in which the amount of oxygen carried through the blood stream is greatly reduced.
Caring for Your Child's New Teeth
You should start regular dental check-ups for your child after their first tooth appears, but no later than their first birthday.
- Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth by wiping the gums with a
clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth. As soon as teeth appear, decay can occur. A baby’s front
four teeth usually push through the gums at about 6 months of age, although some children don’t
have their first tooth until 12 or 14 months.
- For children younger than 3 years, caregivers should begin brushing children’s teeth as soon as
they begin to come into the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a
smear or the size of a grain of rice. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or
as directed by a dentist or physician. Supervise children’s brushing to ensure that they use of the
appropriate amount of toothpaste.
- For children 3 to 6 years of age, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Brush teeth
thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Supervise
children’s brushing and remind them not to swallow the toothpaste.
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