When will my baby start teething?
Baby teeth commonly start to appear in the mouth around 9 months of age, but timing can range from 3 to 12 months.
Teething can be uncomfortable for some babies and may make them a bit upset and bad-tempered. But lots of love and a chilled teething ring to chew on can often help.
Teething does not happen at the same time for all babies.
Some babies begin showing signs of teething as early as 3 months of age. All 20 baby teeth (10 in the top jaw and 10 in the bottom) will usually arrive by the time your child is 3 years old.
Don’t worry if your baby’s teeth come in at different times.
Learn more about how your baby's teeth develop.
How will I know if my child is teething?
Even before you start to see a tooth erupt, you may notice some changes in your baby’s behaviour. Signs that your baby may be teething include:
- red swollen gums
- flushed cheeks
- being cranky or restless
- a slight fever
- pulling the ear on the same side as the erupting tooth
- sucking fingers and fists
Teething is not usually associated with illness. So don’t assume that your baby is ‘just teething’ if there are symptoms such as coughing, rashes, diarrhoea, vomiting, seizures, or a high fever. See your doctor if your child is experiencing these symptoms to check if they need treatment.
How can I ease my child’s discomfort?
When your child is teething, keeping them comfortable can be a challenge. Some suggestions include:
- Wash your hands and gently rub your baby’s gums.
- Give your baby a cooled (but not frozen) teething ring or dummy.
- Gently run a cool clean facecloth or the back of a cold spoon along your child’s gums.
- Give your baby something firm to suck on, such as a sugar-free rusk.
- For older children, give them softer foods for a while so they don’t have to chew so much.
What should I avoid or be aware of?
See your dentist or doctor before using any pain medicines or mouth gels that contain anaesthetic.
Cold teething gels can provide short-term relief, but if your child swallows the gel you use on their gums it can be hard to know how much is swallowed. This can make the throat numb and cause a choking hazard. Only use teething gels made for children and only as directed on the pack.
Some people find that dummies (pacifiers) can provide children with relief and comfort while they are teething. Never dip a dummy in sugary spreads such as honey or jam as this can increase your child's risk of tooth decay.
Beaded necklaces or bracelets are a potential choking hazard and unlikely to provide any pain relief for your teething child.
Caring for baby’s teeth and gums
Setting your children up for good oral health starts early, even before baby teeth start to appear.
Parents and guardians should brush babies' and young children's teeth for them to ensure all surfaces are cleaned. Before introducing a toothbrush, you may like to use a clean, damp washcloth or muslin cloth to clean your baby's gums. When a few teeth have come through, you can start to use a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles.
When your child is 18 months, you can use a small pea-sized amount of low strength fluoride toothpaste.
If your child is 6 or over, use a small amount of standard strength fluoride toothpaste and encourage your child to spit out, not swallow and not rinse after brushing.
The recommended amount of time to brush is 2 minutes. However, for infants and young children who only have a few teeth, this amount of time is a little too long. When brushing your baby or young child’s teeth, just ensure that your reach every surface of each tooth.
Once your child has two teeth touching side by side, start cleaning in between these teeth with dental floss. This often starts when your child is around 2 years old. Your dentist can show you techniques and items that can make this an easier process.
You can check your child’s teeth at home by lifting their top lip and rolling down their bottom lip to have a look at their teeth. If you see white, brown, or black spots on the teeth that do not rub or brush away, it is best to make an appointment with your dentist to have the teeth checked.
When to visit the dentist
It is a good idea to organise your baby’s first visit to the dentist when their first tooth appears, or at around 12 months – whichever comes first. Dentists and their teams are used to working with babies and young children.
The first dental visit will involve your dentist examining your child’s teeth. This visit is also an opportunity for the dentist and parent/s to discuss important oral health topics, including:
- tips for cleaning your child’s teeth
- what to expect as your child’s mouth continues to develop
- thumb sucking and dummy use
- how to help prevent tooth decay
- avoiding injury to your child’s teeth
- advice on tooth-friendly foods and drinks
Always make a visit to the dentist a positive experience for your baby. Never use the dentist as a threat for not brushing teeth or other behaviour.
Is there financial assistance to help with costs?
If you receive a government benefit, such as Family Tax Benefit A payments, your child may be eligible for the Child Dental Benefits Schedule. This Government benefit provides each eligible child $1,026 of general dental treatment over a two-year period.
To check if your child is eligible, call Medicare on 132 011, or check your Medicare online account through MyGov.
Speak to a maternal child health nurse
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.
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Last reviewed: May 2022