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1, 2, 3… and soon 20 little toothy-pegs!


My baby's cheeks are flushed, and they are dribbling and are a little grouchy. I'm wondering whether they might be cutting teeth. A little advice to relieve their pain and anticipate their first big toothy grin would be welcome!

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

Teething can hurt. The gums thicken before the tooth cuts through and it is not always pleasant! Some "lucky" babies sail through the process and escape with just flushed cheeks and a red bottom. Others may suffer more. Follow our pain relief advice and read our tips for keeping your child's teeth healthy…

When can I expect to see the first big toothy grin?

The first tooth cuts between 6 and 12 months on average, most often in the middle of the lower gum. This is not a general rule however and the first tooth may appear earlier in some babies. In rare cases babies have even been known to be born with teeth! Other babies will not get their first tooth before they are 12 or even 18 months old.

The usual order of appearance is the central and lateral incisors, followed by the first molars (at around 12 months), the canines (at around 18-24 months) and finally the back molars (at around 2.5 - 3 years). Children cut teeth at different stages so no need to worry if your baby is three months behind their cousin who's the same age. Teething has nothing to do with development!

Teething - the obvious signs

Teething often comes with other unpleasant symptoms. If your baby is dribbling, grouchy, puts their hand or anything they find in their mouth, then they are more than likely cutting teeth!

Some mums also note other symptoms such as a red bottom, soft stools and flushed cheeks. Such symptoms are not serious and do not generally last more than 48 hours.

Solutions for soothing baby

If your baby is in pain and you are looking for an effective treatment, you can ask your paediatrician for advice. However there a number of things you can do to relieve their discomfort. It is just a matter of finding the one your baby likes best!

  • Lightly massaging your baby's gums with a clean finger can be soothing and help alleviate the pain.
  • Teething gels, available at chemists, may also provide relief.
  • Give your baby a teething ring for them to chew on. Soft plastic or liquid-filled versions are better.
  • Cuddle therapy also works when your baby is having a hard time teething. Extra cuddles and kisses go a long way!

Please consult your healthcare professional for advice


A sparkling smile is hard work

Once all your baby's milk teeth have come through then they need to be cared for even if they are only temporary. Children can be affected by tooth decay straight away. Left untreated this may delay the appearance of permanent teeth and even weaken them. Here's how to adopt the right attitude...

  • Avoid giving your child sweets, sweet foods and soft drinks. Brushing children's teeth as soon as they appear with a specially designed brush and a small smear of low-fluoride toothpaste (under 450 ppm) has been recommended for some years now. Oral fluoride supplementation should not therefore be given. Ask your paediatrician for advice.
  • At the age of 1 or 2, you should brush your child's teeth in the evening or ideally after each meal. Choose a specially designed toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste suitable for their age. Make sure they rinse their mouth thoroughly after brushing.

You should take your child for their first dental check-up at around 6 months. This will enable your dentist to check that the teeth and gums are developing properly, and to provide you with advice on how to maintain your child's oral health. It is also the ideal opportunity for your child to meet their dentist and to put them at ease with the dental surgery environment, especially as they will need to go back for a check up regularly!

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