Teething can be a very different experience from child to child. It can start at almost any age, though the average is about six months old. The first teeth to come in are usually the lower front teeth. Some children have no symptoms and parents are surprised when they see teeth. Other babies become very fussy and inconsolable while teething. However, fever is not normally a symptom of teething.
Try giving your baby something to chew on like a refrigerated moist washcloth. The pressure from chewing the washcloth will give your baby’s gums some relief. Teething gels and numbing agents are not recommended. These products contain benzocaine, which numb the area but may potentially cause dangerous side effects at such a young age. Although teething necklaces seem like a good idea, they can present a choking hazard.
Begin oral hygiene with your baby as early as possible. This might be as simple as wiping your baby’s gums with a damp cloth before bed. Once your child develops teeth, use a smear of fluoride toothpaste on a toothbrush for morning and evening care. A smear should be about the size of a grain of rice. Once your child can spit, around ages two to three, the amount of toothpaste can be increased to pea-sized.
We strongly suggest that parents bring in their child for a dental check-up as soon as teeth appear, or by one year of age. Ask if your family dentist is willing to see your baby. If not, the dentist can refer you to a pediatric dentist. These specialists spend an additional two to three years training with kids.
Usually at this age, a knee-to-knee exam is preferred. This means mom or dad holds the baby’s lower half while the dentist supports the upper half and takes a look inside the mouth. Starting at this young age helps your child become accustomed to visiting the dentist and establishes a dental home early on.
Watching your child’s smile change as those first teeth appear can be wonderful. If you have questions or concerns along the way, be sure to ask your dentist.