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Baby’s first tooth: How long will that toothless grin last?

There's nothing quite as adorable as a baby's gummy smile, especially when it's your child's. But it's only a matter of time before those first teeth come in.

While there is a general pattern to tooth development, the timing can vary for every child. Some kids start early, some don't get their teeth for months, and some are born with a tooth or two in their mouths already.

Before a baby's first tooth appears, there will be teething. This usually starts 2-3 months before the first tooth comes in. Since teeth typically appear at 5-7 months, your child could start to teethe as early as his or her second month.

How will you know when teething starts?

Common signs of teething in infants

  • Drooling – This is often the first sign. In some cases, it can be excessive. Babies may develop a rash on their chin or cheeks because of the drooling.
  • Red and/or swollen gums – The baby's gums become more sensitive and may swell. Some babies appear to have swollen cheeks. A low-grade fever can also occur.
  • Cheek rubbing/ear pulling – Babies may try to sooth themselves by pulling at their ears or rubbing their cheeks.
  • Fussiness and/or crankiness – Sore gums will often make a perfectly happy baby cranky – and a fussy baby downright difficult.
  • Refusing food – When they are in pain, babies will not want to eat. Try offering cold foods or drinks to help ease the discomfort.
  • Sleeplessness – The discomfort of teething can often affect a baby's sleep. The lack of quality sleep may also make the baby more irritable during the day.

The teething period can be frustrating for parents and babies. For help with how to handle teething see the article Teething remedies: What works and what doesn’t.

Baby dental development

You can learn more about what to expect as your child grows by reading Kids' Dental Health.

Remember, the timing can vary, but there is a general pattern to the way baby teeth appear. Your child may start teething in her second month of life or she may not cut her first tooth until she is a year old. When your baby's teeth do begin to come in, you can learn how to care for them in the article How to Choose and Use Your Baby's First Toothbrush.

No matter how long it takes for teething to begin or for those first teeth to appear, it can be a trying time for both you and your baby. Knowing what to expect – and when to expect it – may help you feel better prepared and better able to handle this stage of your baby's life.

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