Teething is the normal process of new teeth working their way through the gums. Your baby's first tooth may appear any time between the time he is 3 months to 1 year old. Most children will have all 20 of their baby teeth by the age of 3.
Most children have completely painless teething. The only symptoms are increased saliva, drooling, and a desire to chew on things. Teething occasionally causes some mild gum pain, but it usually doesn’t cause any crying or interfere with sleep. When the back teeth (molars) come through (age 6 to 12 years), the overlying gum may become bruised and swollen. This is harmless and temporary.
Because teeth erupt almost continuously from 6 months to 2 years of age, many unrelated illnesses are blamed on teething. Fevers are also common during this time because after the age of 6 months, infants lose the natural protection provided by their mothers' antibodies.
Your baby's teeth will usually erupt in the following order:
Find the irritated or swollen gum. Putting pressure on the sore gum can reduce any discomfort. Massage it with your finger for 2 minutes. Do this as often as necessary. You may also massage the gum with a piece of ice.
Your baby's way of massaging his gums is to chew on a smooth, hard object. Teethers or teething rings are helpful. Most children like them cold. Offer a teething ring that has been chilled in the refrigerator, but not frozen in the freezer. A piece of chilled banana may help. Avoid ice or Popsicles that could cause frostbite of the gums. Also avoid hard foods that he might choke on (like raw carrots). Teething biscuits are fine.
Avoid salty or acid foods. Your baby probably will enjoy sucking on a nipple, but if he finds this uncomfortable, use a cup for fluids temporarily.
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