Teething is one of those things that every baby goes through eventually. Ironically, it is also among the most misunderstood milestones in babies. And things get even more confusing when it happens earlier than expected.
The average age for the eruption of the first tooth is 4 to 6 months. The first teeth to come out are usually the bottom middle teeth. However, none of this is set in stone. Some children teeth earlier than this while others take a little more time. Plus, some babies will have a different first tooth than the lower middle teeth.
Natal teeth are teeth that some babies are born with. They usually occur in about 1 in 2000 births, so they are very rare. However, if your child has natal teeth, you do not need to be alarmed. You do not even have to take any action for it unless they interfere with feeding or are a choking hazard. If this is the case, your pediatrician will advise you on what to do.
Natal teeth are more common in babies born with a cleft palates or lips and babies with irregularities in dentin, which are the tissues that help form teeth. However, sometimes it is simply just genetic. About 15% of babies born with natal teeth have close family, including siblings and parents, who were also born with natal teeth.
Neonatal teeth are teeth that come out just shortly after birth. They are even rarer than natal teeth.
Neonatal teeth often occur within just a few days or weeks after birth. They usually appear so quickly that you may not notice any telltale teething signs like drooling or fussiness. However, some babies show normal teething symptoms just before the first teeth come out.
The good news is that natal teeth usually grow just like normal baby teeth. They are not loose and should simply be left alone. However, in very rare cases, just like regular teeth, the neonatal teeth may grow without roots, making them loose and weak. In such cases, surgical removal is usually recommended.
To determine whether a tooth has no roots, it needs to be looked at via an X-ray. If there is no root structure, it poses a number of risks, such as accidental swallowing and choking, tongue injuries, feeding problems, and injuries to the mother during breastfeeding. In such cases, removal may be necessary.
Some pediatric dentists have noticed a family pattern of early teethers. This is usually in infants of about 2 months of age, although most early teethers usually get their first teeth in by about 3 months.
Here is a simple guide on how babies’ teeth usually emerge:
- Bottom front teeth/bottom incisors- these are usually the first to come out, at about 4 to 7 months
- Top front teeth/top incisors- these usually come out next, anytime between 6 to 9 months
- Top lateral incisors, which are located on either side of the top front teeth- these come in by the 9th to 11th month
- Bottom lateral incisors, which are located on either side of the bottom from teeth- these come in at around 10 to 12 months
- Back teeth/first molars- these come in at around 12 to 16 months
- Canines- these come in at around 16 to 20 months
- Second molars- these come in at around 20 to 30 months
However, keep in mind that every baby is different. So although this is just a general guide, it will be slightly different for every child. That being said, by the age of 2.5 years, most children will usually have all their milk teeth out.
So what can you look out for?
As has already been mentioned, for early teethers, sometimes it happens so quickly that practically no symptoms happen until the tooth can be seen. Once the tooth is out, the baby can become fussy during feeding, experience difficulty sleeping, or show none of these symptoms at all and instead continue about their life as if nothing happened.
However, sometimes, it is possible to notice a few symptoms that are usually associated with teething. These include:
- Very mild fever, usually only about 0.12 to 0.15 degrees increase
- Sleep disturbance and discomfort
- Increased salivation
- Random rashes
- Runny nose
- Loss of appetite
- Irritability and fussiness
Keep in mind that it is pretty difficult to determine whether these symptoms are caused specifically by teething or not. This is because these teething symptoms are usually not limited to teething. Babies get fussy all the time, they get runny noses, they get rashes, and so on. It is difficult to distinguish what the actual reason behind these common symptoms could be.
If you suspect your little one might be teething, there are a number of things you can do.
First, try to steer away from thinking that medication is the ultimate solution to all teething problems. Sometimes, normal fussiness is just that – normal. You do not have to medicate your kid for it. Teething gels, essential oils, and over the counter medication like Tylenol and Motrin should all be used with caution. Even natural and organic solutions are not always 100% safe for babies.
So what can you do? Well, teething usually causes discomfort that can easily be dealt with by giving the baby something rubbery and chewy to chew on. There are lots of great rubber teething rings and teething keys that babies absolutely love. You can also just give them a cool, wet washcloth to chew on, which is simultaneously numbing and fun to gnaw on. All you have to go is get a clean washcloth, wet it, and put it in the freezer for a while.
Other great solutions are cool, soft foods like applesauce and yogurt. However, these are only recommended if you are not exclusively breastfeeding and have started weaning your little one.
If your child shows symptoms that look like teething symptoms but are way more severe, do not attribute them to teething. Seek medical attention immediately. That being said, try not to get into the habit of always treating teething symptoms with medication.
In very rare cases, your baby may be born with one or more teeth. In even rarer cases, the teeth may start coming out just a few weeks after birth. There is often no cause for alarm when this happens. However, it is a good idea to talk to your pediatrician and find out whether early teething poses any significant risks to the baby. If it is a loose tooth, it may need to be surgically removed. However, in most cases, all that you will be advices to do is to monitor it closely to avoid any potential complicat