The Stages of Baby Teething You Need To Know

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Two nights ago, my 11-month-old was up at least five times during the night.

In my half-awake, half-asleep stupor, I cared for her, nursed her, and got her back to sleep over and over again, but when morning finally dawned, I looked over at my husband and said, "What the heck was that?"

It felt like we were parenting a newborn all over again and I couldn't figure out why -- until I happened to have my daughter chomp on my hand later that morning and I felt two giant molars making their way through her gums.

Oh, yeah, that's right, I remembered. Babies grow teeth. Duh

Crazy nighttime awakenings + fussy baby = I should have considered teething right away, but I didn't. I admit that I tend to "forget" about the timeline of baby teething, because it's kind of hard to remember. It feels like teething comes and goes in spurts, so just to refresh my memory (and be prepared for the next time!), I brushed up on what to expect from your baby's first year of teething. 

The First Tooth

So when can you expect your baby's first fateful tooth to pop through? Well the short answer is: there is no short answer. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that the first tooth eruption can vary anywhere from four months to fifteen months. So that's helpful. 

BUT they do also note that if your baby has not had a first tooth pop through by 18 months, it's time for a dental evaluation, so get your child to a pediatric dentist. 

What To Expect

Babies typically get their lower teeth first, then their upper teeth and the order goes a little something like this: central incisors, lateral incisors, first molars, canines, second molars. Here's a helpful chart from the American Dental Association to make it more clear. 

But in simple terms, babies get their front teeth, side teeth, molars, those sharp pointy ones, and then the second molars, so you know where to check if you suspect teething as the culprit of your fussy baby.

 

The 7 + 4 Rule

I had honestly never heard of this nifty little "rule" for teething babies, but it makes a lot of sense, now that I think about it. 

The rule is simple: for every four months of life (starting at 7 months), your baby should sprout more teeth. So at 7 months, your baby should have two teeth. By 11 months, they should have four. At 15 months (another four months later, get it?), they will have eight teeth. At 19 months, they will have 12 teeth. By 23 months, that number will reach 15, and lastly, by 27 months, your baby should have 20 teeth. 

Phew! What a mouthful. (Literally.)

How Long Does Teething Last?

I have good news and bad news. Actually, that's not true, I only have bad news. The ADA says primary teething can last up to three years. Just in time for those teeth to start falling out again in a couple of years!

Other Stuff You Need To Know

  • Another little tidbit I learned was that the ADA actually recommends starting oral care even before your baby's first tooth pops through. They encourage parents to start "wiping the gums" of even small infants with a soft washcloth or soft toothbrush to get in the habit of daily oral hygiene. 
  • They also recommend that breastfed infants get oral care, especially after nighttime feedings. 
  • Amber teething necklaces have no medical evidence to indicate that they work and they pose serious risks, so do not ever use on your baby without speaking to your medical care provider first. 

Sources:

American Academy of Pediatrics. A Pediatric Guide to Children’s Oral Health. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009. Accessed August 5, 2015 online: https://www2.aap.org/oralhealth/docs/OralHealthFCpagesF2_2_1.pdf. 

Baby Teeth Eruption Charts. American Dental Association. Accessed August 5, 2015 online: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/e/eruption-charts. 

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