When in utero, babies develop tooth buds, which lay the foundation for their first set of teeth. These teeth, called the primary teeth, stay with the child for about six to 12 years, depending on the type of tooth and the child's personal tooth development patterns. Generally, the first teeth that come through a baby's mouth are the lower central incisors, which are the two lower front teeth. The lateral incisors typically appear next on the lower part of the mouth, and they come in at about 10 to 16 months. The first of the upper teeth to appear are normally the central incisors, which emerge between the ages of eight months and one year. The lateral incisors follow close behind and appear when the child is between the ages of nine and 13 months. After the incisors, the first molars appear, and then the canine (cusped) teeth. The second molars, which are usually the last teeth to emerge, arrive between the ages of two and three years. The second molars are long-lasting primary teeth, and they typically do not shed until the ages of 10 and 12 years.
Signs of Teething
Babies usually start putting their hands in their mouths when they are several months old, which leads some parents to mistakenly believe that the baby is teething. However, there are some signs to watch for that indicate a child's tooth (or teeth) are starting to erupt. Drooling is a common symptom associated with teething. Babies might also have sensitive, swollen gums. They will sometimes show behavioral signs of teething, which include fussiness and irritability. Babies who are teething may also bite objects or refuse food. Sleep problems can also be attributed to teething.
Alleviating Teething Pain
Teething can be painful for babies, and parents can take several measures to make their children more comfortable. Massaging the affected gums can alleviate pain, as can feeding the baby cold food like yogurt and applesauce. Some babies get relief by chewing on objects like a wet washcloth or a teething ring. However, parents should avoid giving babies teething tablets, teething necklaces and gel-based teething rings, as they can potentially cause side effects if ingested, according to Healthychildren.org. If babies are very uncomfortable and lose sleep, parents can ask their pediatricians about giving their child a pain relief medication. In addition to helping their baby cope with teething, parents should start adding fluoride to the child's diet when he or she is about six months old. Fluoride is a mineral that fends off tooth decay by hardening tooth enamel. Fluoride is usually found in tap water, so parents can give their child several ounces of water with solid foods.