Let’s say right up front that this question can’t be answered. That’s because just like most other elements of child development, there are huge variations.
In fact, things will vary by baby and they might also be affected by your genetic background.
So, our usual re-assuring message; please don’t worry if your baby is “different” to what follows”. It is almost certainly unimportant.
Some babies, including Napoleon Bonaparte, are born with some teeth already. That’s usually 2-3 on the lower jaw although a Japanese baby some years ago was born with 14.
These events are exceedingly rare though. In some cultures historically, these poor babies were killed, as it was seen as a sign of bad luck but of course these teeth at birth mean absolutely nothing in terms of your child’s future dental or other development.
Your baby should start teething at somewhere around 6 months. This will typically be 1-2 teeth on the bottom jaw.
Please don’t fret if they’re “late”. Some babies don’t start teething until they’re over 12 months. Your child may start teething later than average if they were born premature or were unusually small at birth.
Most babies will have a set of teeth by around 18 months. If yours hasn’t started teething by then, you should consult a dentist or your doctor.
Contrary to some myth, not all babies suffer badly with teething pain. Some may show little or no awareness that their teeth are coming in but inevitably, some pain may be possible. In some cases that can mean sleepless nights yet again!
A cooled teething ring can be useful to help, as can some products. Speak to your pharmacist or doctor if your baby seems to be suffering particularly badly. Note that they may also have a very slight temperature.
Whatever your personal views are on homoeopathy for adults, be extremely cautious about using such products to help with teething pain unless a medical professional has cleared it first.
You may see your baby looks or is irritable while teething. That’s of course linked to the soreness that may exist on their gums.
Treat this as per above but distracting them by play can also help.
From the moment the first teeth appear, they need to be cleaned (very gently).
There are special baby teeth cleaning materials and techniques available. Your pharmacist or paediatrician will be only too pleased to make appropriate recommendations.
While your baby is teething, they might be more prone than usual to put anything they can get their hands on into their mouth – often driven by the need to try and soothe pain.
You may need to be extra vigilant about leaving things around during this period.
As a very slightly raised temperature and some grumpiness can be normal at this time, some more serious problems can be missed and attributed incorrectly to ‘teething’.
The following symptoms are typically NOT associated with teething and if they arise, you should consult a medical professional:
- evidence of severe pain;
- discolouration of skin (gums excluded);
- apparent visual difficulties;
- respiratory troubles / blocked chest;
- significant rashes.
Gaps in teething
Don’t worry if your baby cuts a few teeth and then takes a break, with not much happening for a while.
That’s perfectly normal. Consult a doctor or dentist if it continues but keep in mind, babies vary hugely in how fast they deliver their full set of gnashers!