Understanding What is Teething: A Comprehensive Guide for New Parents

What is teething?

What is teething?

Teething occurs when the first set of teeth erupts from your baby’s gums. These are known as primary teeth or baby teeth. Since teeth are introduced into the baby’s life for the first time, it can be an exceptionally frustrating period, for both the babies as well as the parents.

Thus, new parents or expecting parents, need to know what to expect during teething, and how they can make the entire process less painful and more comforting for the baby.

Let us help you understand teething in a better light.

When does teething start?

Generally, teething can begin somewhere around 3 months after the baby is born. By the 4th or the 7th month, your baby’s gum lines grow and get ready to push out a new set of teeth. During this time, you can witness the eruption of your baby’s first tooth.
According to the studies provided by the American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry, parents need to approach the concept of teething, from a pragmatic perspective. This includes a set of pre-determined infant oral care guidelines, listed below:

  • Conduct caries risk assessments.
  • Anticipatory guidance on infant oral health.
  • Preventive strategies.
  • Dental care interventions (treatments).

Which are the first teeth to erupt?

Usually, when babies start teething, the two bottom front teeth, also called the central incisors to erupt first. Then, by 4 to 8 weeks later, the lateral incisors, or the four upper front teeth appear in the baby’s mouth. Finally, a month after the arrival of the lateral incisors, the lower lateral incisors emerge into the baby’s mouth.
Now that the incisors have appeared, the next set of teeth to break through the gum line are the molars. The first set of molars and the eyeteeth (pointy teeth in the upper jaw) appear. This enables the child to begin exercising their bite functions. However, by their third birthday, most of the children will have all 20 of their primary teeth.
In some cases, babies are naturally born with one or two teeth that have emerged only within the first few weeks of their lives. If they don’t impose a choking or feeding risk to the baby, they are not a cause for concern. But, if they interfere with the child’s ability to feed, then you may need to visit a dentist.
teething symptoms

Symptoms of Teething

According to our paediatric dental experts, listed below are some of the signs or symptoms of teething, you need to watch out for. Remember to consult the doctor if any of these symptoms advance.


When the teeth begin to erupt through the gums, they can cause discomfort and irritability to the child. This is prevalent, especially when the child’s first molars or other primary teeth erupt.

Skin Rashes/Drooling:

Did you know that teething can cause drooling too?

Yes. It’s true. Teething can stimulate drooling in babies. If babies drool excessively, then it can cause rashes around their mouth, cheek, chin, and neck areas. One of the main reasons for this skin rash is the active reaction between bacteria (saliva) and the skin.


Due to the excessive production of saliva, caused by teething, infants can often be susceptible to coughing or gagging. This is because the large amount of drool generated from the child’s mouth can drip back into the baby’s throat. This would force your infant to cough incessantly during teething.

Biting & Gnawing:

Children tend to bite or gnaw at things because they feel discomfort and pain in their gums. This is an extremely common side effect of teething. Thus, they bite or gnaw on practically anything, to alleviate the pressure and discomfort they feel from under the gums.

Low-Grade Fever:

Teething is a trying time in a child’s life. It forces them to go through various levels of discomfort and irritability. It also subjects them to low-grade fever. However, it is important to remain cautious about these fevers. If the infant’s temperature rises above 101 degrees, then you may need to contact the paediatrician immediately.

Ear Pulling & Cheek Rubbing:

Children who drool a lot tend to rub their cheeks or pull their ears when they feel high levels of discomfort from teething.

But how does this happen?

Well, the pain caused in the gum area of the child, travels back to the cheeks and ear. By rubbing those areas of the face, the pain becomes more aggravating and irritating for the children. Usually, they can be seen depicting this behaviour when their molars are erupting.


Diarrhoea is another common symptom witnessed among children who are going through their teething phase. Since there is an increased production of saliva at this stage, it can automatically cause the stool to become slightly loose and watery. This can also expose your baby to the risk of dehydration.

Why Cold Symptoms Can Be Mistaken for Teething Symptoms?

According to the findings from the American Dental Association, teething begins at around six months of age. During this time, the infant loses the immunity they have received from their mother via the placenta. This is also the same time when the child’s immune system is becoming more pronounced and developed.

As the child builds their immunity and strength, they can easily become vulnerable to an assortment of minor infections.

The reason why cold symptoms are often misunderstood as teething symptoms is that both these major and pivotal changes are happening at the same time. As a result of this, parents can get often confused between these symptoms, and provide the wrong self-diagnosis for their infants.

Did you know that around 70% to 80% of parents mistake cold symptoms experienced by the child, for teething symptoms? (Source: British Dental Journal)

Thus, it is important to educate oneself on the fundamental signs of teething and cold/illnesses. This will allow you to draw a set of distinctive differences between the two terms and provide the appropriate treatment care for your child.

Discover more about teething now!

Learn more about your baby's teething process with Micris Dental Clinic!

Tips to Comfort your Baby During Teething

Teething pain can sometimes lead to sore gums and exorbitant irritation. While this is a temporary problem for your child’s oral health, it can hamper the quality of their lives for a certain time. However, there are several ways to comfort your teething infant and soothe their gums. Let us explore some of these treatment options:

Massage the Gums:

Your infants’ gums may be aggravated during teething. Hence, our dentists recommend you apply gentle pressure to their gumline, as this will help ease their pain. Once the baby is put to bed, with a clean finger, softly massage their gums.

This will help make the baby feel relaxed, and they can fall asleep easily. In the following night, should teething pain wake your baby up, you can simply use this technique to relax their gums and pain.

Use a Cold Washcloth:

Soak a clean washcloth in the water and wring it until it is damp. Then, place the wet washcloth in the freezer or the fridge to cool it down. Once the washcloth is nice and cool, you can fold them neatly and give them to your baby to chew.

This will help relieve the pain and pressure felt in your baby’s gum line. However, washing clothes can be a choking hazard if they are left unattended with children. Hence, be careful not to leave your baby alone while they are chewing on the washcloth.

Refrigerate the Teething Toy or Pacifier:

Our paediatric dentists highly recommend this method to comfort a teething baby. By making use of a child pacifier or a teething toy, you can easily soothe their gums by cooling them down. However, make sure these devices are clean before placing them in the refrigerator.

Remember to only use solid toys like teething rings, not gel-filled toys. This is because, gel-filled or liquid-filled toys are prone to leaking, which in turn, can be hazardous to your baby’s health

Other refrigerated products that you can use to relieve the distress of your little ones are:

  • Chilled-cut fruits like apples, pears, or strawberries.
  • Milk popsicles, using BPA-free moulds. You can fill these moulds with breast milk or formula.
  • Teething necklaces are a great addition to your child’s life, because, they are made of amber beads, which are effectually designed to help console teething pain.

Wipe Away Excess Drool:

Since excessive drooling can cause your child to cough or gag, always make sure that they wear a bib while they teethe. In this way, you can easily wipe away the drool from your baby’s face and prevent their clothes from getting soaked.

Another benefit of having your child wear a bib is that it will keep their face dry, reducing the likelihood that they will have skin rashes.

Pain Medication:

Pain medications are a last resort to teething pain. To enable your child to have a sound sleep, you can request pain medication from your paediatrician. They will advise you on the recommended dosage and type of pain relievers you need to use.

However, it is a good idea to stay away from teething tablets or gels, because they can be harmful to your baby’s mouth. This would create an array of problems for your child’s health. For instance, teething tablets like lidocaine or benzocaine can numb a baby’s mouth, causing issues with their swallowing.

How Long Does Baby Teething Last?

The length of your baby’s teething period is unpredictable. It differs from one infant to another. This means that, while some kids may only have teething for a few days or months, others could endure it for a year or more.

Also, since each infant has a different tolerance for pain, their experience in this teething phase can be equally unique as the pain. However, the teething pain is only short-lived.

To elucidate in brief, the teething phase is completed once a new tooth emerges, or a new set of primary teeth has erupted. Mostly, the pain subsides after your baby’s bottom front teeth have erupted (they are the first teeth to erupt).

Taking Care of Your Baby's New Teeth:

Teething can be an exciting yet stressful time for both, the children, and the parents. A new set of teeth are the building block of our child’s oral health. New teeth mean your kids can do much more with their mouth now, such as exercising proper bite functions, improving their speech functions, smiling brightly, and much more.

However, you will need to take good care of your child during this stage, because it decided the course of their dental health for the future and teaches them the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene.

Listed below are some tips that will help you to take care of your child’s first set of primary teeth:

  • During the infant stage, make use of a clean wet washcloth to clean your child’s teeth before bed. Your child’s gums will also be cleaned in the process.
  • When the kid is at least 3 years old, then you can use a pea-sized smear of fluoride toothpaste on a soft-bristled toothbrush to brush their teeth.
  • This is where the education on maintaining good oral health starts. You will need to teach your child to brush their teeth and tongue properly and preserve their gums.
  • Once your child’s first tooth appears, it is recommended that you schedule their first dental visit. Maintain your child’s regular dental check-up regimen for many years to come.

Teething is a confusing time of life, for both the parents as well as the little ones. If you have more questions or concerns about your child’s teething, don’t hesitate to contact our dental experts at Micris Dental Clinic.

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