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Teething: Signs, Symptoms And Relief

  • How do you help your baby through the teething process, and what can you do? It’s an essential part of your baby’s growth, but it might leave your baby (and you!) a little distressed.
  • In this guide, we go through the signs of teething in babies, as well as ways you can care for your baby during this phase of their growth.

Teething signs and symptoms

  • Are they crying?
  • Are they grumpier than usual?
  • Are they drooling and dribbling excessively?
  • Do they wake up at night distressed?
  • Are their gums sensitive and red?
  • Are they biting and chewing whatever they can find?
  • Are they rubbing their ear?
  • Does your baby have flushed or red cheeks?
  • Are they refusing food?
  • Do they have a mild temperature?

How to relieve teething discomfort

  • Teething rings
  • Gently rubbing their gums
  • Keeping their face clean
  • Comforting your baby

What is teething?

Teething happens when your baby’s teeth start pushing through the gums, which can lead to inflammation – that is, their gums becoming red, sore, and painful. This process takes around 8 days per tooth about 4 days before the tooth comes out and 4 days after.1

There are no set rules to this. When it comes to teething, babies experience the process in different ways. A good way to prepare for this phase in your baby’s growth is to know the signs when you see them.

Teething signs and symptoms

How do you tell if a baby is teething? Is a teething rash on cheeks normal? Many parents can feel confused about what the symptoms of teething in babies are.

In a survey of parents around the world conducted by Nurofen for Children, parents responded that:

● Most babies start to experience teething pain between 4 and 12 months
● Teething pain typically lasts anywhere from 1 week to 4 months
● The top 2 most common symptoms are restless sleep and red & swollen gums
● When teething, over half of babies experience pain at least once a day
● Most parents describe their child’s teething pain as ‘moderate’

†Online survey of n=1,357 parents with children under 2 years old experiencing teething pain, conducted in June 2017 across 5 markets (United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Russia and Germany).

You won’t always be able to see your baby’s tooth appearing, and you might only be able to feel a bump. Sometimes teeth may emerge with no discomfort – but this is not always the case.

Here are some questions to consider that can help you understand if your child is showing signs of teething:

Are they crying?

crying

Are they grumpier than usual?

grumpier

Are they drooling and dribbling excessively?

drooling

Do they wake up at night distressed?

distressed

Are their gums sensitive and red?

sensitive gums

Are they biting and chewing whatever they can find?

biting and chewing

Are they rubbing their ear?

rubbing their ear

Does your baby have flushed or red cheeks?

flushed cheeks

Are they refusing food?

refusing food

Do they have a mild temperature?

mild temperature

Your child may experience one or more of these symptoms when they are teething. Always seek medical advice if you are concerned about your baby’s symptoms for any reason.

 

The teething process

The timing of teething is different between every child. One baby might start teething at 4 months, while another may not start till 12 months. Most children will have all their primary or “milk” teeth by the time they are 3 years old.2,3

Every baby is different, but here’s a rough order of how baby teeth emerge:2,3

6-10 Months

6-10 months

Bottom front teeth (central incisors)

8-13 Months

8-13 months

Top front teeth (central incisors)

8-13 Months

8-13 months

Either side of the top front teeth (lateral incisors)

10-16 Months

10-16 months

Either side of bottom front teeth (lateral incisors)

13-19 Months

13-19 months

First set of back teeth (first molars)

16-23 Months

16-23 months

Teeth between molars and incisors (canines)

25-33 Months

25-33 months

Second set of back teeth (second molars)

teeth graph

How to relieve teething discomfort

When you see teething baby signs, knowing how to help relieve any discomfort can help make it less stressful for you and your baby. Remember that different comforts help different babies, and, through trial and error, you can find what works for your baby.

Some things to try include:

teething rings

Teething rings:

If your baby feels the need to chew something, a teething ring might be a good option. It can ease their discomfort and distract them from any pain. Carefully follow the instructions that come with your teething ring of choice.

rubbing their gums

Gently rubbing their gums:

Feeling pressure on their gums can help decrease your baby’s teething pain. Try gently massaging your baby’s gum with your clean finger.

keeping their face clean

Keeping their face clean:

If your baby is dribbling more than usual, this may cause a teething rash on their chin. Be sure to gently wipe away the dribble to help prevent a teething rash.

comforting the baby

Comforting your baby:

Extra cuddles and hugs help to comfort your baby, especially if teething pain wakes them at night. Playing with your child also helps to distract them from the pain.

Why Nurofen for Children can help

Nurofen for Children contains ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory which helps relieve pain and inflammation. Ibuprofen can be given to babies aged 3 months and older weighing 6 kg and up, to help reduce inflammation associated with teething and provide teething pain relief.

Aside from relieving teething pain, Nurofen for Children oral suspension also provides up to 8 hours4 of fever relief and can be taken on empty tummies. It’s available in either strawberry or orange flavours, and is colour free and sugar free.

Tips for protecting your child’s teeth

Caring for your baby’s teeth is important. Healthy teeth allow them to chew food and speak properly, and also helps ensure their future adult teeth have plenty of room to grow.

Here are some ways you can help take care of your baby’s teeth and develop good oral hygiene habits:

clean baby's teeth

Clean your baby’s teeth

From birth, you can start cleaning your baby’s gums by wiping with a soft wet cloth. As soon as they get their first tooth, start brushing twice a day with a small, soft toothbrush and plain water. One brushing should be at night before your baby goes to bed. You can start adding a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste that’s suitable for children from 18 months.

visit the dentist

Visit the dentist

Take your child to their first dental visit at 12 months. Ensure that they continue to have regular dental check-ups as they get older.

no bottle when baby falls asleep

Don’t allow your baby to fall asleep with a bottle

Going to sleep with a bottle of milk, formula, juice or other sweetened drink can cause tooth decay. A pacifier or dummy is a better option if they want to suck on something to settle themselves.

Frequently Asked Questions:

When do babies start teething?

Every baby starts teething at different times. Some babies might cut their first teeth at only a few months old, while some may not start until much later. Typically, baby teeth will start to emerge at 6 months.2,3

How long does teething last?

A single tooth takes about 8 days to emerge, including 4 days before the tooth comes out and 4 days after.Most children will have all their primary or “milk” teeth by 3 years old.2,3

How to help a teething baby?

When teething is causing your child pain, there are a few things you can try to help them feel better. This includes giving them a teething ring to chew on, gently rubbing their gum with a clean finger and comforting them with cuddles. If necessary, you can also use an appropriate pain reliever, such as Nurofen for Children.

What do teething gums look like?

Teething gums may look red and swollen. Your baby may also drool more than normal. Sometimes you may see a visible tooth emerging from the gum, or you may be able to feel it with your finger.

How do you know when a baby is teething?

There are several signs your baby is teething, although not all babies will show all or any of them. These symptoms include having sore red gums, wanting to bite or chew on objects, dribbling more than usual, being grumpier than usual, crying or fussiness, waking up at night, rubbing their ear, having flushed or red cheeks, having a decreased appetite, and a mild fever. If you are concerned in any way about your child’s teething or their symptoms, be sure to see your doctor.

References:

  • 1

    Memarpour et al 2015

  • 2

    Better Health Channel (Department of Health, State Government of Victoria, Australia). Teeth development in children. Available here.

  • 3

    New Zealand Ministry of Health. Teeth and teething. Available here.

  • 4

    Autret-Leca et al 2007

This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice. All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. In all health-related matters, always consult your healthcare professional.

In all health-related matters, always consult your healthcare professional. Always read the label. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful. Do not use if your child has a stomach ulcer. If symptoms persist see your healthcare professional. Reckitt Benckiser, Auckland. TAPS-NA6107.

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