Your baby’s first teeth will probably start to come through at around six months, but there may be lots of dribble before they appear!
Here’s what to expect when your baby is teething.
When does teething start?
The baby teeth (or milk teeth) develop inside the gums while your baby is still in the womb. Occasionally babies are born with one or two teeth, but this is unusual.
The first tooth to appear is usually a front tooth in the lower gum, but exactly when it will appear will vary. Some babies still have no teeth at around a year old. Most children will have all their milk teeth by the age of two and a half, however.
There are 20 milk teeth, 10 at the top and 10 at the bottom. Some babies don’t have any problems with teething; others become fretful, dribble a lot and have red cheeks.
What order to teeth appear in?
There is no exact order in which milk teeth appear, but as a general rule:
- 6 months: incisors. Two central top and two central bottom teeth
- 8 months: incisors. Two more incisors top and bottom, making four top and four bottom front teeth in all
- 10 to 14 months: first molars. Double teeth for chewing
- 18 months: canines. The eye teeth or ‘fangs’
- 2 to 2 1/2 years: second molars. The second set of double teeth at the back
Teething shouldn’t make a baby ill, so if you are worried, check with your health visitor or doctor. Find out more about Toddler teething here.
Should you worry if your baby's teeth are late to appear?
Dentist and mum of two Natasha Roberts says: "No. All children are different. But if you have any concerns, see your dentist." If your baby still doesn't have any teeth by the time they are a year old, it's a good time to take them along to the dentist anyway, so they can take a look and reassure you.
The rate at which teeth first appear tends to run in the family. Asking your baby's grandparents when your own teeth and those of your partner first arrived might give you some idea of when your baby will start teething.
Baby teeth cleaning
- Clean your baby’s teeth and gums regularly as soon as he has any teeth. Do this twice a day using a soft brush and just a smear of baby toothpaste.
- Baby toothpastes are specially formulated with lower levels of fluoride than adult toothpastes. However, ideally these toothpastes should still contain no less than and no more than 1,000 parts per million of fluoride, so check the packaging.
Is my baby teething?
Babies can't tell you when they're in pain, but you can look out for the signs. If your baby is drooling a lot, chewing on things or has flushed cheeks, this often marks the onset of teething. However, babies instinctively put things in their mouths as part of their development, so this alone cannot be taken as a sure sign of teething. Have a look at our baby+teething+symptoms section if you are unsure. There are a few solutions you can try to help ease their discomfort, along with a range of teething+products on the market which may also help.
Try running a clean finger along your baby's gum-line as you can sometimes feel a new tooth coming through before you can see it.
How long does teething last?
Some babies dribble copiously for months before any actual teeth appear. Mum of two, Fiona Hunter says "My first baby soaked through several bibs and t-shirts every day from the age of about five months, although his first tooth didn't come through until he was over ten months old!"
The teething process is usually complete by the time the child is two and a half to three years old.
How to soothe those sore gums:
- Babies who are teething like to bite on something hard such as a teething ring.
- Try offering a dried crust of bread, or a scrubbed carrot - but stay close in case of choking.
- Avoid sugary rusks and biscuits.
- Rubbing your baby’s gums with a clean finger can help
- Pat his face dry with a soft clean cloth if he dribbles a lot, so that his skin doesn’t become sore.
- Teething gels may help, but keep a watch as they can cause allergies in some babies.
- Some medicines are suitable from 2 months. Always read the label.