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Parent’s guide: When do babies start teething and how to care for baby teeth

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Dr Teresa Li
April 23, 2024

Unfortunately, your newborn didn’t arrive with a neat little set of instructions. So, it’s not surprising that when those baby teeth make their way through the gums many parents find themselves asking, “When do babies start teething? What is the normal baby’s teeth order? Is there a baby teeth chart?” 

Here, we’ll answer these exact questions and give you some practical tips on how to brush baby teeth and soothe a teething baby.

When do babies start teething, and  what’s the baby’s teeth order? 

Many first-time parents want to know the normal timeframe for ‘when do babies get teeth?’. It’s important to remember that, like all developmental milestones (walking, talking, smiling, moving out of home…), there’s a broad range of ‘normal’.

Most infants get their first tooth around six months but some can start as early as three months or as late as one year.

Generally, by your child’s third birthday they’ll have all their baby teeth. The first teeth to emerge, adding charming character to their smile, are the front teeth on the bottom jaw. Shortly followed by the front teeth in the upper jaw. The last teeth to arrive are the molars on both top and bottom.

(See the baby teeth chart below - a downloadable version is available on our Tiny Teeth Matter guide available here).

Baby teeth chart

Most infants get their first tooth around six months but some can start as early as three months or as late as one year

This baby teething chart is a helpful guide to understand the common baby’s teeth order. The first baby tooth can come in at around the 6-month mark at the front. The last teeth to arrive  are the molars at the back with the last one around 3 years of age.

You may call your baby’s first set of teeth ‘milk’ teeth, primary teeth or ‘deciduous’ teeth (deciduous because they ultimately fall out, replaced by our adult teeth). In total we grow 20 milk teeth, which are eventually replaced by 32 adult teeth, including wisdom teeth.

Baby teething symptoms

There are a number of common signs of teething babies parents can look out for. If your little one is growing their first set of pearlers you may notice one, or a combination of, these baby teething symptoms:

1. Red gums and blistering

Teething causes swollen gums, which have a bright red appearance. In some cases, a small blister may appear where the tooth is pushing through the gums.

2. Trouble eating

Mealtime becomes a little more difficult when your child is teething.  The gums are sore and swollen, making sucking and swallowing painful.

3. Tears & irritation

Teething babies may be extra teary and irritable due to the pain and discomfort in their gums.

4. Sleeping trouble

Your child may be restless at nap time with a bit of pain as teeth work their way through and ‘cut’ the gums.

5. Drooling

Drool is one of the common signs your baby is teething. Teething causes extra saliva production which means more drool.

6. Chewing objects & fingers

Your child may start gnawing anything they can get into their mouth. Chewing is a self-soothing technique that relieves pressure from the emerging teeth.

7. Face Rash

The extra saliva produced during teething dries the skin around the lips and may result in a rash.

Is your little one ready for their first dental appointment?

Book in for your baby’s first appointment now or download the Tiny Teeth Matter Guide to ensure you have all the information you need.

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How to soothe a teething baby 

Teething is a tough time for parents because the overwhelming desire is to take away your child’s pain. This is a normal part of your child’s development, and nothing beats a little TLC to soothe a teething baby. 

If you simply want to use what you already have at home, gently massaging your baby’s gums with a clean finger or clean cloth can help to soothe the pain. Child-friendly medications such as Panadol are also an effective way to help your little one feel more comfortable. 

Whether you’re wondering how to soothe a teething baby at night or any time throughout the day, here are some baby teething pain relief options to consider.

Baby chewing on a teething ring to soothe himself.
When teething your baby may start gnawing anything they can get into their mouth. Chewing is a self-soothing technique that relieves pressure from the emerging teeth

Teething rings or mittens:

While teething, babies chew on anything they get into their mouths. Biting relieves the pain, and there are a number of baby teething toys on the market designed to help.

Teething rings, baby teething necklaces or mittens are a practical solution. Especially when you chill the teething ring before use (but do not freeze).

Sugar-free teething rusks:

Similar to teething rings, baby teething rusks give your little one something to gently bite down and suck on, which can help relieve the pain.

Baby teething gel:

Applying teething gel to the affected gums acts as a local anaesthetic. This provides some pain relief. Always ask the pharmacist to ensure they are suitable for your child’s age.

When to brush a baby’s teeth and how to care for them 

The best way to prevent tooth decay for your little one is to care for their teeth and gums when they are babies. Even before your child’s first teeth make their grand entrance, it is recommended to clean your baby’s mouth after feeding to remove liquid and food.

A common way to do this is to use a clean piece of gauze or clean cloth to wipe the baby’s gums, taking care to remove liquid and food before settling them in for the night.

Mum holds the baby while brushing their teeth to remove naturally occurring bacteria.
The easiest way to brush an infant's teeth is to sit or lay them on your lap an gently brush while supporting their head

Brushing  baby teeth when they appear

Baby teeth, like adult ones, can develop a sticky film called plaque as a result of naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth. This plaque causing bacteria loves to feed off sugar and carbohydrates and in doing so creates the acids that weaken tooth enamel and cause decay.

And it’s not just sweet treats that contain sugar; there are plenty of foods with natural sugars, including fruit, breastmilk and formula.

Dental plaque build-up is completely normal in humans so don’t panic, it just means we need to consistently wage war on the bacteria through regular brushing!

How do I brush baby teeth?

The easiest way to brush an infant’s teeth is to sit or lay them on your lap and gently brush while supporting their head.  You’ll want to ease your child into this new activity. And, like everything, it will take some practice. Start with 30-second sessions and slowly increase brushing time to 2 minutes. 

As your child gets older and is walking around, you can turn this daily routine into a fun activity, playing their favourite song or incorporating it into bath time if your child enjoys this activity. 

Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and clean the teeth in a gentle circular motion taking care to brush all the tooth surfaces: top, front, outside and inside.  As the back teeth emerge, take extra care to brush the top surface grooves where food can sometimes get stuck.

How often should I brush my baby’s teeth?

Twice a day is ideal. Once after breakfast and then again after their last meal. Don’t forget to not only clean the teeth but also gently clean the gums too.

As more teeth start to erupt and touch each other, it’s a good idea to introduce flossing to ensure bacteria doesn’t accumulate between your baby’s teeth.

Your baby’s first dental visit 

The Australian Academy of Paediatric Dentistry recommends a baby's first visit around the time of their first birthday. 

This first check-up, usually done with your baby sitting on your lap in a child-friendly room, allows the dentist to check the healthy development of your child’s first set of teeth.  

In this early phase, it’s important to get your baby familiar with the dentist to prevent child teeth decay and create healthy dental habits. It will ease your child into the routine of visiting the port macquarie dentists, and they will be less likely to be frightened of a dental visit, creating healthy dental habits they can take to adulthood.

If your child is eligible for the Child Dental Benefit Scheme, you might be entitled to receive up to $1000 over a two year calendar period for a range of essential and restorative dental services.

Caring for tiny teeth can be a daunting task, especially if you’re a first-time parent. Thankfully, with the right knowledge of baby teething symptoms, soothing techniques and proper dental care, you can give your little one a head start toward strong oral health.

And of course, you don’t have to navigate this alone. Reach out to the TL Dental team at any time to help tiny teeth grow into big, healthy smiles. 

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