There is so much to look forward to when a baby is born. Like many new parents, you may anxiously watch your baby and hope that he or she is right on schedule with all of the important milestones: sleeping through the night, smiling and rolling over. Another breakthrough that parents eagerly anticipate is the baby's first tooth. The preoccupying question is: "when do babies start teething?"
Signs of teething
Crankiness, biting, drooling and a fussy appetite are good signs that your baby is teething. Your little one may also have swollen gums and a little trouble sleeping. The Queensland Government states that if your baby experiences fever and diarrhoea, you should see your doctor. Remember that a baby's immune system is not fully developed at this time of life. Babies put anything and everything, clean or dirty, into their mouths, so they are at risk of picking up bacteria and viruses that cause sickness.
Helping with discomfort
If you're lucky, teething will be a breeze for you and your baby. For babies that show signs of discomfort, here are some dos and don'ts recommended by the Australian Dental Association (ADA). Included in the ADA's recommendations is the advice to consult your dentist or pharmacist for advice before using any medication. A traditional remedy discouraged by the ADA is giving the baby a dummy that has been dipped in sugar or honey. This habit can promote tooth decay.
Don't worry; there are plenty of simple, effective remedies. Try giving your baby a clean teething ring or a chilled dummy - not too cold though. Keep a stockpile in the refrigerator so that you'll always have one ready. Age-appropriate cold foods such as pieces of carrot or cucumber can work well, and a gum massage may make your baby's sore gums feel better. The best advice is to find which of the remedies works well for your baby.
You've probably been looking for signs of a little white tooth from the time of your baby's very first drool. It's the two bottom front teeth that appear first, usually when the baby is around 6 months old. However, no two babies are alike; your baby's first tooth will begin to emerge between 3 and 9 months. So, the real answer to the question "when do babies start teething?" is at any time within that period.
Now that a couple of teeth have popped through, on schedule or not, you may wonder when you can expect to see more. According to the Australian Dental Association, the two upper front teeth erupt next, some time between 8 and 12 months. By 12 to 16 months, many babies have four teeth on the bottom and four on top. According to Better Health Channel, Victoria, the remaining baby teeth — canines and molars — should push their way through by the time your child is 2 to 3 years old. This is a long process, but when it's over, your little one will have welcomed 20 baby teeth into his or her mouth.
The importance of baby teeth
Many parents feel that baby teeth are not important because they will eventually be replaced by permanent teeth. However, this is exactly why baby teeth are important. In addition to giving babies a beautiful smile and helping them learn to speak and to chew nutritious meals, these 20 pearly whites hold the necessary space for the permanent teeth to position themselves correctly in their mouth.
The importance of caring for your baby's teeth and gums from the beginning and of starting dental visits early cannot be stressed enough. Your child will be about 12 years old before his or her last baby tooth is lost. Isn't it shocking to think that, when your child finally gets through this teething routine, they'll be starting their teen years!