The eruption of your baby’s first tooth between four and seven months of age is an exciting milestone. The first thing you would see in your baby’s mouth during tooth eruption is a small pearly white tooth crown peeking from the pink gums.
However, have you noticed your baby chewing or biting into anything they can lay their hands on a few months before their teeth erupt? This is a stage known as teething. Teething is a term given to the time around when your baby’s first teeth erupt through the gums, and this stage could begin as early as three months (1).
Read this post as we try to dispel some widely held myths about teething and give you the facts.
What Are The Types Of Dentition In Children?
It is essential to know that the complete set of primary teeth, also known as milk teeth or deciduous teeth, erupt in the first three to four years of your baby’s life. From four to six years of age, your baby’s dentition is called a primary dentition. This changes when your child’s first permanent teeth erupt, replacing the baby teeth.
Until all your child’s milk teeth are replaced, your child has a mixed dentition as their mouth contains both milk and permanent teeth. Once all your child’s permanent teeth have erupted, they are said to have a permanent dentition.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Teething?
- Irritability or increased fussiness
- Disturbed sleep
- Loss of appetite
- Redness, swelling, or inflammation of the gums
- A slight increase in body temperature
- Increased drooling
- Cheek rubbing and ear pulling
- Nausea and vomiting
Learn more about the signs of teething and ways to soothe your baby’s teething pain here.
Popular Teething Myths And Facts
Myths surrounding the eruption of teeth are aplenty, and right from grandmothers to dental professionals, everyone has their own list of things to do when your baby is teething. Let’s decode the myths and reveal the facts surrounding this process (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8).
- Myth: Teething causes fever.
Fact: This is probably the most common teething myth you will come across. Yes, there could be a slight increase in your baby’s body temperature during teething, but this cannot be considered as fever. However, fever is pretty common around this time, as your baby tends to put everything into their mouth, which can cause infections.
- Myth: Baby teeth erupt in random order.
Fact: You might have heard that primary or baby teeth erupt in no specific order. It is untrue. Your baby’s baby teeth and permanent teeth follow a specific order of eruption. Although the timing of eruption may vary, the order of eruption never changes.
- Myth: All teething products in the market are safe.
Fact: Many new parents fall for this information. Ensure the material used in the production of teething toys is safe for your little one. You might want to go through this post to know how to select the right teething products for your baby.
- Myth: Mouth-numbing products are safe for babies.
Fact: These products are not recommended for babies and can cause side effects when used. Teething gels can also numb the back of the throat and interfere with swallowing and the gag reflex. Always consult with your pediatric dentist or pediatrician before opting for products that contain medicines.
- Myth: It’s too early for them to cut teeth.
Fact: On an average, your baby’s first tooth can erupt anywhere between four and seven months of age. However, this is not a fixed time, and babies can begin teething as early as three months of age or not have any teeth until they are 12 months old.
- Myth: They are too old to not have any teeth.
Fact: Many parents panic when their baby’s teeth fail to erupt around six months of age. Even though your baby’s first teeth should have erupted by six months, it is important to note that the rate at which the first tooth erupt may vary in different babies. A few babies do not have teeth even on their first birthday.
- Myth: Teething must be treated.
Fact: A disease or condition is treated in medical science. However, teething is neither of the two; it is a physiological process that comprises tooth eruption in a baby. So, teething requires no treatment. However, you could try a few effective teething remedies to soothe your baby’s teething pain.
- Myth: Babies do not get cavities.
Fact: Where there are teeth, there can be cavities. So, it is a myth that babies do not get cavities. In fact, not taking good care of your baby’s oral hygiene increases their risk of developing cavities.
- Myth: Teething in babies is extremely painful.
Fact: Many people believe that teething is extremely painful as they tend to compare it with the eruption of larger permanent teeth, such as wisdom teeth. However, teething in babies is not unbearably painful.
- Myth: Teething causes diarrhea.
Fact: Teething does not cause diarrhea. Many people believe that increased salivation results in loose stools, but this is a myth. If your baby has diarrhea during teething, visit your baby’s pediatrician promptly, as it is probably an infection.
- Myth: Appetite loss, vomiting, and a runny nose are common during teething.
Fact: At the age when babies get their first teeth, they are still exploring the environment around them. In the process, they are exposed to different objects and tend to put things into their mouths. This, combined with the reduction in their maternal antibodies, makes them more susceptible to infections, resulting in vomiting, appetite loss, or a common cold resulting in a runny nose.
- Myth: Your baby has rashes due to teething.
Fact: This is partially true. Teething increases salivation in your baby’s mouth and results in drooling. Excessive drooling can cause skin rash around your baby’s mouth, cheeks, chin, and neck area due to the bacteria present in the saliva. However, determine the exact cause of rashes in your baby before trying any medications.
- Myth: Teething causes sucking or gnawing on toys.
Fact: Teething can occur as early as three months of age, and around four to six months, your baby is exploring the world around them. They tend to put objects into their mouth and chew on them. The sucking reflex comes naturally to them.
It is a coincidence that sucking and gnawing on toys occur around the same time as teething. It is important to note that it is beneficial to give your child toys to chew on to help soothe their gum during teething.
- Myth: Baby teeth erupt at six months.
Fact: Ideally, it is expected that the first baby teeth, that is, the lower front teeth, erupt at six months of age. However, there is no definite timeline, and some babies do not get their first teeth until their first birthday. Baby teeth can erupt anytime between four to ten months of age, with an early eruption in some babies and late in others.
- Myth: The symptoms of teething are obvious.
Fact: Every baby is different, and so are the signs and symptoms when they are teething. While most babies show mild to moderate symptoms during teething, some may not show any. In a few babies, teething is not that obvious. However, you should watch out for the subtle signs that may indicate your baby is teething.
- Myth: There is no way I can help my baby’s discomfort during teething.
Fact: This is a myth you shouldn’t fall for! Try some of these pediatric dentist-approved ways to soothe your baby’s discomfort during teething.
- Give your baby cold foods, such as refrigerated fruits, curd, and cold milk, based on their age.
- Wet a clean cloth and freeze it. Give this frozen cloth to your baby to chew on. The cold temperature of the cloth can help soothe the inflammation of your baby’s gums.
- You can offer your baby some teething biscuits (recommended for infants who are able to eat solid foods). Remember to clean your baby’s gums subsequently.
- Teething toys are beneficial to soothe your little one’s sore gums. You can freeze or refrigerate them to provide further relief to your baby.
- You can also massage your baby’s sore gums with your clean fingers.
- Myth: Babies do not need fluoridated toothpaste until they are older.
Fact: Fluoride in toothpaste helps strengthen the enamel and prevents cavities. According to the American Association of Pediatrics(AAP), you must brush your baby’s teeth twice a day with a small smear of fluoridated toothpaste from the time their first tooth erupts until the age of three. After three years of age, you can increase the quantity of toothpaste to a pea-sized amount.
- Myth: Thumb sucking is bad during teething
Fact: The sucking reflex is one of the first reflexes your baby develops, and it comes naturally to them. They begin sucking on their thumb or fingers right from when they are in the womb. For some babies, sucking on their thumb provides them a sense of security. Thumb sucking is absolutely okay during teething. This habit gradually decreases between two and four years of age and usually has no lasting effects.
- Myth: Baby teeth aren’t that important.
Fact: Baby teeth erupt to allow your baby to eat and get their share of nutrition during their early childhood. They also help with speech development and the formation of facial structure. Missing baby teeth or loss of baby teeth due to cavities can result in bite disturbances.
- Myth: Teething can make your baby sick.
Fact: Between six and 12 months, the baby’s maternal antibodies wane, and their body begins to develop its own antibodies. At the same time, babies begin to chew and put things into their mouths. These factors increase a child’s risk of infections, such as a runny nose and mild fever.
Several myths and parental beliefs about teething in babies are due to poor awareness or wrong sources of information. Your baby’s dentist and pediatrician can guide you well about any query you may have about your baby’s teething period. Teething is an essential developmental milestone and is not as bad as it is made out to be.
2. Mahtab Memarpour, Elham Soltanimehr, and Taherh Eskandarian; Signs and Symptoms associated with primary tooth eruption: A clinical trial of nonpharmacological remedies; BMC Oral Health (2015).
3. Your Infant is Teething: Know the Signs and Symptoms, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
4. Baby’s First Tooth: 7 Facts Parents Should Know; American Academy of Pediatrics
5. Teething 101: Is my baby teething?; Queensland Health
6. Teething 101: 4 Pediatrician-Approved Ways to Soothe a Teething Baby; Cleveland Clinic
7. Fluoride For Children: FAQs; American Academy of Pediatrics
8. Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Use; American Dental Association