Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider on specific questions about your baby's health.
Parents of newborns learn it early on: There are a lot of developmental milestones to keep track of! Some of these moments are very emotional for parents, like when a baby utters their first word or beams their first smile.
But one of the most anticipated baby breakthroughs is teething. Baby teeth are absolutely essential to your child’s oral health and assist in communication and eating. They’re also a crucial milepost on the way toward their permanent teeth, which will come in six or seven years down the road.
When do teeth come in for babies? The short answer is between six and twelve months. However, the truth is there’s a wide time range, with some children showing signs of those chompers as early as three months. When it comes to your babies oral health, be sure to address any teething concerns you may have with your doctors first.
The Teething Timeline
So, when do baby teeth come in? Babies are born with 20 primary teeth (also known as milk teeth, deciduous teeth, or baby teeth) already developing in their gums. These typically begin to appear between six and twelve months, although they can appear earlier too. Doctors refer to this process as “eruption.”1
While the term makes it sound like it occurs very rapidly, tooth eruption actually takes place over a long period of time, sometimes up to three years.
For most babies, their first teeth to appear are the central incisors (which are in the front) along the bottom of the jaw. These are generally followed by upper central incisors. Over time, the remaining twenty primary teeth will fill out the rest of your baby’s mouth.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting Teeth
Teething usually doesn't hurt babies, and the process is completely painless for some. But for a teething baby, it does present a bit of discomfort.
A few common teething symptoms may include:
- Inflammation of the gums
- Loss of appetite
- Interrupted sleep
- Increased drooling
- Increased chewing (or biting!)
The thing to keep in mind here is that while it’s a little uncomfortable, teething is completely normal. All babies experience tooth eruption, and there are many ways that you can help ease your baby’s experience.
How Do You Soothe Your Baby’s Teething?
As parents, we naturally dislike when our children feel aches and pains. You may have asked yourself: “How to soothe a teething baby at night?” after nights of discomfort. Unfortunately, teething is a natural part of your child’s growth. However, you can help to comfort your child by keeping an eye out for the signs of budding chompers.
A few ways that you can support your baby during teething include:
- Chilled washcloths – Nothing soothes inflammation like coolness, right? That’s why popping an organic washcloth in the freezer for a few minutes is one of our favorite teething home remedies. Make sure the washcloth is cold but not frozen, then give the washcloth to your little one to chew or use the washcloth to massage their gums.
- Chewing toys – A silicone teether can also be an effective source of alleviation. Toss one in your diaper bag for fast relief on the fly. Avoid chewing toys that contain liquid, in case of leaks or punctures.
- Acetaminophen – A dose of this painkiller can help ease gum pain. But be sure to discuss this potential solution with your pediatrician before trying it out. In many cases, cool washcloths and chewing toys will do the trick.
Caring for Your Baby’s Teeth
Because baby teeth do eventually fall out, some parents may think that baby and toddler dental care isn’t that important. In reality, this is far from the truth.Damage and decay can make baby teeth fall out more quickly, creating dental problems for the permanent teeth down the line.
Even before teeth come in, you can begin caring for your babys gums by wiping them down with a damp washcloth or gauze pad twice a day. Many parents opt to do this after feedings or before bedtime. This will help prevent food and bacteria from building up along the gums.
As soon as teeth start coming in, you can begin to follow these daily steps:
Brushing – Use an infant toothbrush to clean any teeth that have appeared, but don’t overdo it on the toothpaste. A good rule of thumb is to use a rice grain-sized dollop or smear of toothpaste until the baby is three, then increase the dollop to a pea-sized amount.
- Flossing – You can skip this step until the teeth begin to touch. When they do, wrap the floss around two of your fingers a few times, then gently move it between the teeth, making sure to reach the gum line.4
- Teach them their routine – Your child can begin to learn how to brush their own teeth around the age of three and should transition to doing it on their own by four or five. You’ll want to supervise this process in the beginning to ensure they are using the correct technique.
Baby Teeth: A Milestone to Chew On With Monica + Andy
Seeing the first signs of teeth in your baby’s mouth is an exciting moment for parents as it marks an important step in their communicative and feeding abilities. Ease your child’s discomfort and pain by focusing on cool, soothing sources of relief, and don’t forget to develop healthy care routines early on.
If you found this article helpful, check out the Monica + Andy blog for more parenting tips and tricks. Or browse our shop of baby clothes, gifts, and accessories for safe and soft products that have been tested and approved by moms like you.
- Lyttle, Christine et al. "Tooth eruption and teething in children." Pharmaceutical Journal. 17 November, 2015. https://pharmaceutical-journal.com/article/ld/tooth-eruption-and-teething-in-children
- May, Ashley. "Children are using an unhealthy amount of toothpaste, CDC warns." US Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2019/02/04/children-using-too-much-toothpaste-unhealthy-cdc/2766121002/
- "Fluoride for Children: FAQs." Healthy Children. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/oral-health/Pages/FAQ-Fluoride-and-Children.aspx
- Whittemore, Steven. "When Should My Child Start Flossing Their Teeth?" Pediatric Dentistry. 1 November, 2018. https://dentistryforkids.info/blog/2018/11/when-should-my-child-start-flossing-their-teeth/
- Zhou, Cindy. "At what age do children start losing their baby teeth?" Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/expert-answers/baby-teeth/faq-20058532