From four to six months of age, your child may have tender gums, as teeth begin to grow. Babies can be restless and/or irritable while teething. Feeding and sleeping may also be affected.
Many children like to chew on something to relieve this tenderness. Parents may find that a chilled, clean teething ring is useful. Beware of using 'teething biscuits' as these may lead to dental decay.
Teething doesn't cause diarrhoea or fever so if your child has these kinds of symptoms consult your doctor – don't dismiss it as just 'teething'.
As your child grows, there are many other factors to consider so don’t forget to check out Everymum's Baby & Toddler sections for more information and useful tips.
Teething and Dental Care FAQs
Roaring red cheeks, irritability, dribbling and sleepless nights – these are the classic signs of teething. It's now time to start thinking about your child's dental health, so talk to your dentist.
If you start to make your dental visits a regular feature in your child's life, it will alleviate any fears he or she could have in the future.
When to start brushing?
If the tooth has yet to break through, use a damp piece of gauze or cotton bud to rub over the tooth. When the molars appear, purchase a soft-bristled baby toothbrush and use it as carefully and as gently as possible.
When can they start brushing their own teeth?
You should supervise brushing until your child is 11. Until they reach the age of six, it's best to stand behind children and physically brush for them, making sure they use the correct amount of paste and rinse thoroughly.
Isn't fluoride toothpaste bad for young children?
The Dental Health Foundation recommends that parents don't use toothpaste on children's teeth until age two – after that only use a small, pea-sized blob of toothpaste. Don't let your child swallow the toothpaste as this can lead to fluorosis, which can result in harmless but unsightly white patches on the teeth.
First trip to the dentist?
Your baby's first dental visit should be as part of your regular check-up. After that, it is recommended that you take your child for a personal check-up before the age of one.
When to start flossing?
Only floss if the teeth have begun to touch each other. Use the floss in the same way you use it on your own teeth – but be very gentle.
What foods should be avoided?
Sweet, starchy or sticky foods. Instead, choose fresh fruit or vegetables and non-sugary drinks. Do not allow the sucking of sweet liquids from a bottle – sucking should only be done when the bottle contain just water. For all other drinks, choose beakers, which can't be sucked on indefinitely.
What about soothers and thumb-sucking?
Your child's jaw begins to align by the age of four, at which point further sucking of a thumb can cause the upper teeth to tip towards the lip. If your child has several baby teeth, a soother can push the upper teeth out and the lower teeth in.
For more useful tips and advice on your baby, visit the Everymum Baby Section.