Health Encyclopedia

Teething

Teething

Teething is a process in which the first set of teeth, called primary teeth, erupt and break through the gums. Although the timing for each child varies, most babies get their first tooth at age 6 to 10 months and have a full set of 20 primary teeth by the age of 3 years.

Teething symptoms may begin about 3 to 5 days before a tooth breaks the skin. But symptoms can be present off and on for 1 to 2 months. The most common symptoms of teething include:

  • Swelling, tenderness, or discomfort in the gums at the site of the erupting tooth.
  • Increased saliva, which can cause drooling. Drooling may cause a rash on the chin, face, or chest.
  • Biting on fingers or toys to try to relieve the gum discomfort.
  • Refusing to eat and drink because of mouth soreness.
  • Irritability and difficulty sleeping.

Many babies don't seem affected by teething. If your baby is uncomfortable, home treatment (such as giving ibuprofen or acetaminophen, teething rings, cold foods and liquids, and gum massage) usually helps. Symptoms usually improve or disappear as soon as the tooth breaks through the skin.

Last Revised: April 16, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine

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