Most children will get their first tooth between the age of 5 and 9 months, but some children are born with a tooth. By the time they are 12 months old, most babies have the top and bottom 4 front teeth. If no teeth have appeared by 12 months, a dentist should be consulted.
The first molars appear after about one year of age and are the teeth that can cause the most discomfort as they come through.
By two-and-a-half years, most children will have 20 milk or ‘baby’ teeth. These teeth will be lost from 6 years of age to make way for their permanent or adult teeth. The first of the permanent teeth to appear are the lower first molars (‘6-year-old molars’), followed by the front (incisor) teeth.
The skin over the tooth may become red and swollen, and the gum may feel hard. Some babies find this painful and uncomfortable.
Most babies have a compulsion to put their fists or objects into their mouths to chew on and rub against their gums.
For some children teething also causes a loss of appetite, irritability or excessive dribbling (which can cause a facial rash). The child may be restless when awake, and have difficulty sleeping.
There is no evidence that teething causes high fevers or diarrhoea. If a child is unwell a more serious condition should be excluded before ‘teething’ is blamed.
To help reduce the pain associated with teething the following measures may be useful.
Teething may cause your baby to be mildly off-colour but it does not cause serious illness. Take your child to the doctor if your child has a high temperature, diarrhoea, sore ears, is not drinking, or seems unwell rather than just grizzly.
Last Reviewed: 09 December 2009