If you are a new parent or will soon be one, then you should learn all you can about teething before your baby's first teeth begin emerging. A firm understanding can help the teething process go more smoothly.
While your baby's primary teeth begin forming when your baby is in the womb, they complete formation after your baby is born and then emerge through the gums. The term "teething" typically refers to the emergence of teeth through the gums. Once your baby finishes teething, typically around three years of age, they should have a full set of 20 primary teeth.
Read on to learn more about what to expect when your baby is teething.
1. Teeth Emerge in a Specific Order
While it may sound surprising, the teeth of all babies typically emerge in a specific order. The lower central incisors typically emerge first, and then the top central incisors. The upper teeth adjacent to the central incisors, called the upper lateral incisors, typically then emerge, followed by the lower lateral incisors. Your baby's molars and canines then emerge in a specific order as well.
Instead of checking your child's entire mouth for oral teething signs on a regular basis, you can check only the area where their next teeth will likely emerge when you know the order that teeth typically erupt in.
Some typical signs of teething, such as fussiness or a baby suddenly beginning to place items in their mouth, don't always signal that a baby's teeth will soon emerge. Babies can become fussy for a wide variety of reasons, and infants often place items in their mouths simply to learn more about the objects. Alternatively, the oral signs of teething, including gum bulges or swollen gums where teeth will soon emerge, are less mistakable.
2. Teething Can Begin Sooner or Later Than Expected
If your baby seems fussy for no reason before the age of six months, then don't hesitate to check for oral signs of teething. While you may have heard that a child typically begins teething around the age of six months, the exact age when a baby begins teething can vary greatly. Some babies' teeth begin to emerge as early as three months of age.
Also, do not worry if your child reaches six months of age and shows no signs of emerging teeth. Some children do not get their first teeth until well after one year of age. In fact, dentists typically do not worry that a child may be suffering from delayed tooth eruption unless there are still no signs of emerging teeth at the age of 18 months.
3. Baby Teeth Can Emerge Crooked
Like most parents, you are likely hoping your child will have naturally straight teeth so they can avoid wearing braces. If some or all of your baby's primary teeth emerge crooked, don't worry that your child is doomed to have crooked permanent teeth. Permanent teeth can emerge perfectly straight in a child who has crooked primary teeth.
Also, don't panic if your child's baby teeth seem to come in with wide spaces between them. It is completely normal for baby teeth to have spaces between them, because this extra space is needed for the wider permanent teeth that will eventually emerge underneath them.
4. Your Child Should Meet Their Dentist After Their First Teeth Emerge
The American Dental Association (ADA) advises all parents to take their children to the dentist within a few months after their first teeth erupt or no later than their first birthday. During this visit, your child can meet their dentist and have their teeth cleaned for the first time. Your child's dentist will also show you how to clean your child's new teeth well at home, examine your child's jaw, and answer any questions about your child's oral health that you may have.
Your child is less likely to feel nervous during their later dental exams when they have already met their dentist early in life and gotten used to the process of a dental checkup.
Knowing what to expect when your baby begins teething can help teething time go smoothly for your baby and your family. Schedule your baby's first dental checkup with P.A. Daniel Jr., D.D.S. today.