“When do babies start teething?” This is a common question new parents ask when faced with a crying inconsolable baby who is a few months old. Let's get a few myths out of the way first. No, teething does not cause a litany of mysterious illnesses in infants. And no, early teething does not necessarily mean that a child will be any smarter or more intellectually advanced than its peers.

Teething is actually a process of tooth development that begins long before the first tooth breaks through the gums.

Teething 101

Did you know that some babies born with teeth? Yes, those lucky few get to skip out on the teething process. Yet, for the vast majority of babies teething is a fact of life. So, when do babies start teething?

For most babies, teething starts between 6 and 8 months of age. But, it can start as early as 3 months or as late as 15 months. Infants are very much individuals when it comes to tooth growth. Some babies teeth will come in faster than others. The rate of tooth development is partially determined by genetics. Whatever age your teeth initially grew in when you were a baby will give clues to your child's growth patterns.

One of the most prominent old wives tales is that infants who teethe early are smarter than those who grow teeth more slowly. And that slow teethers will develop difficulties learning later in life. This is simply not true. There's no difference between the two.

Tooth development in infants usually follows a distinct pattern. Lower incisors come in first then upper incisors. Lower lateral incisors precede upper later incisors. Then, 1st molars, canines, and lastly 2nd molars.

Not all children will have teething pain. Some will feel discomfort. Others will not. Most teething babies are at an age to begin to try solid food.

Signs and Symptoms of Teething

Chronic, low-grade, achy gum pain is the hallmark symptom of teething. But, since your baby can't talk and verbalize its discomfort, you'll have to be on the look out for other signs associated with teething.

Food refusal, swollen gums, drooling, constant hand in mouth activities, crying, and irritability can accompany teething. However, there may be no signs or symptoms at all. Some babies sail through the teething process with no problems.

When do babies start teething? At the most inopportune times. For many parents, it seems that nights are the worst time for teething pain. But, in reality nights are no worse than days for tooth pain. It's simply because the children (and parents!) are more tired and cranky at the end of the day.

Teething is not associated with other health issues that affect babies like diarrhea, nasal congestion, diaper rash, and respiratory infections. It just so happens that teething occurs just as maternal antibodies wane in infants. Diarrhea happens when a child swallows too much saliva from drooling. Respiratory infections appear due to germs being introduced when a child has their hands in their mouth.

Troubled Teething Remedies

Sometimes, the best treatments are the most simple. A cool wash cloth, ice pops, frozen peas, and frozen breast milk can all be used to gently numb sore gums.

Rubbing the gums also helps some infants. Herbs like chamomile and clove soothe tender mouths. Be sure to avoid fluid filled teething rings as newly formed teeth can puncture the plastic. Infant can ingest the fluid.

Stay away from applying honey, wine, or alcohol to inflamed infant gums. Pain relievers such as Tylenol and Ibuprofen work well for teething pain. Just try to limit the use of these medications.

Cuddling, play, music, and distractions help to redirect a babies attention from the pain its feeling. Topical oral numbing creams may also be an option if approved by your doctor.

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