Did you know that your child’s teeth begin to form while the baby is still in the womb? It’s true!
At about 5 weeks, the first “buds” of teeth begin to take shape in the baby’s jaw and at birth – even though we don’t see them – your baby has a full set of 20 primary (baby) teeth hidden in his or her gums.
In addition to helping children chew and pronounce words as they develop, the primary teeth act as “placeholders” in the jaw for the permanent teeth. These push through the gums, making way for 32 permanent teeth.
While the timing varies from child to child, most babies begin to teethe somewhere between four-seven months old. Some may start even later.
How do you know when your baby is teething – as opposed to when she or he is just fussy?
Again, symptoms aren’t the same for all, but they may include:
- Swollen and tender gums
- Fussiness and crying
- Drooling more than usual
- Gnawing or wanting to chew (the pressure on hard objects may help relieve pain)
- Slightly raised temperature
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
When it comes to how quickly teeth erupt (or push through), that’s as individual as your child. One may cut their first tooth at only a few months, while another may not see a tooth until he or she is a year old. Whatever the timing, the order of appearance is the same:
- Two front teeth (just like the song!) in the lower jaw are usually the first to erupt. This occurs somewhere between the ages of six and 10 months.
- The two front teeth (central incisors) in the upper jaw show themselves between the ages of eight and 13 months.
- The lateral incisors, which are the teeth on either side of the two front teeth, erupt in both the upper and lower jaws between the ages of eight and 16 months. The lower set tends to push through first.
- The first set of upper and lower molars (flat-surfaced back teeth) erupt between the ages of 13 and 19 months.
- Canine or ‘eye’ teeth sit beside the lateral incisors and erupt in both the upper and lower jaws between the ages of 16 and 23 months.
- The second set of upper and lower molars erupts between the ages of 25 and 33 months.
The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry say that the first dental visit should occur within six months after the baby’s first tooth appears, but no later than the child’s first birthday.
The average child has their full set of 20 primary teeth by the age of three years.
It’s important to note that while teething may be painful for both of you, it usually doesn’t make a baby sick. If your baby exhibits signs of diarrhea, vomiting, high fever, cough, congestion, be sure to call your pediatrician. These are not typical signs of teething.
Our next blog post will focus on comforting your child so that you BOTH can make it through teething.