Teething is the process by which an infant's teeth sequentially appear by breaking through the gums. Teething may start as early as three months or as late, in some cases, as twelve months. The typical time frame for new teeth to appear is somewhere between six and nine months. It can take up to several years for all 20 deciduous (aka "baby" or "milk") teeth to emerge. Though the process of teething is sometimes referred to as "cutting teeth", when teeth emerge through the gums they do not cut through the flesh. Instead, special chemicals are released within the body that cause some cells in the gums to die and separate, allowing the teeth to come through.
The level of pain that a baby can handle will be different for each child. Some may be a lot fussier than others while they are teething. It's as important as root canal. The soreness and swelling of the gums before a tooth comes through is the cause for the pain and fussiness a baby experiences during this change. These symptoms usually begin about three to five days before the tooth shows, and they disappear as soon as the tooth breaks the skin. Some babies are not even bothered by teething.
Common symptoms include drooling or dribbling, mood changes and feelings of irritability or crankiness and swollen gums. Crying, sleeplessness, restless sleep at night, and mild fever are also associated with teething. Teething can begin as early as 3 months and continue until a child's third birthday. In rare cases, an area can be filled with fluid and appears over where a tooth is erupting and cause the gums to be even more sensitive. Pain is often associated more with large molars since they cannot penetrate through the gums as easily as the other teeth.
When do babies start teething?
The onset of teething symptoms typically precedes the eruption of a tooth by several days. While a baby's first tooth can present between 4 and 10 months of age, the first tooth usually erupts at approximately 6 months of age. Some dentists have noted a family pattern of "early," "average," or "late" teethers.
A relatively rare condition, "natal" teeth, describes the presence of a tooth on the day of birth. The incidence of such an event is one per 2,000-3,000 live births. Usually, this single and often somewhat malformed tooth is a unique event in an otherwise normal child. Rarely, the presence of a natal tooth is just one of several unusual physical findings which make up a syndrome. If the possibility of a syndrome exists, consultation with a pediatric dentist and/or geneticist can be helpful. The natal tooth is often loose and is commonly removed prior to the newborn's hospital discharge to lessen the risk of aspiration into the lungs.