How Your Baby’s Teeth Develop
Tooth development begins in the womb. By 6 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy identifiable tooth buds begin to form in the foetus, and by 8 weeks the tooth buds of all the baby teeth have been established. At around 20 weeks, the permanent teeth begin to form. When baby is born, there are 20 baby teeth (also known as milk teeth, or deciduous teeth) hidden within the gums, ready to erupt, usually between the ages of 6 months and 3 years.
What Types Of Baby Teeth Are There?
There are three main types of teeth which will appear during the first three years of life. These are:
- Incisors – the front teeth located in the upper and lower jaws which have a thin, cutting edge. The upper and lower incisors come together like scissors to cut food.
- Canines – these are the pointy teeth on both sides of the upper and lower incisors. They are used to tear food.
- Molars – these teeth are at the back of the mouth and have broad, flat surfaces to grind food. There are two molars in each corner (quadrant) of the mouth, a ‘first molar’ and a ‘second molar’.
Teething AKA Tooth Eruption
The teething process can also be called ‘tooth eruption’ and refers to the action of the tooth breaking through the gums and into the mouth. During this process, the lower of each tooth type usually appears first and generally in a specific order – incisors, first molars, canines, second molars.
Generally speaking, tooth eruption takes approximately eight days which includes four days before and three days after the tooth appears. A teething cyst, which looks like a blue-grey bubble, may appear on the gum at the location the tooth is about to appear. A cyst such as this will heal without any treatment, but they can look quite alarming if you’ve never seen one before.
The Australian Dental Association also identify some other symptoms that may occur when a tooth is erupting. These include irritability, swollen and tender gums, sucking or chomping on toys, and pulling the ear that is on the same side as the erupting tooth. You can read more about this here . Not all babies will experience these symptoms. It is important to note that symptoms such as changes in sleep and eating patterns, rash, runny nose and diarrhoea do not generally occur as a result of teething and are, for the most part, signs of illness or infection.
Managing The Teething Process
Some tips for managing the sore gums of your little one include:
- Massage – use clean fingers or a soft, wet cloth.
- Chilled (not frozen) teething rings. These can help to reduce inflammation and relieve discomfort.
- Unsweetened teething rusks or sugar-free teething biscuits (only for infants over 6 months).
- Pain relieving medication such as paracetamol. Ibuprofen can cause nasty reactions in some children.
- Dry the drool to avoid skin irritation.
There are other treatment options available for bubs: however some of these are best used with caution or not at all. The ACCC recently issued a product safety statement about the amber teething necklaces, warning of possible choking and strangulation hazards. It advised parents to consider other less risky methods of providing relief from teething.
Many people turn to teething gels to soothe their little one’s woes. Common teething gel formulations contain 8.7–9.0 per cent of the ingredient choline salicylate. Salicylate is related to aspirin which can have adverse effects on children. Some teething gels also contain benzocaine which is also not recommended for babies. You can read more about the effects of teething gel here.
Your Baby’s First Appointment
Once baby’s teeth begin to appear, it is advised that they have their first dental visit between 6 and 12 months. Here at CDG, we love meeting your little ones and are available to offer advice and assistance with any issues you have, including those related to teething.