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Here’s what you should know about teething in babies, according to a pediatric dentist

Ari Bines
·3-min read

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When your little one starts teething, you’ll finally begin to understand the term “growing pains” as a parent. Believe it or not, however, this important developmental stage doesn’t have to be a pain for you or your baby. In this week’s episode of In The Know: Milestones, Dr. Hetal Patel, a certified pediatric dentist and mother herself, weighs in on how to best handle teething in babies. 

As a parent, it’s important to recognize the actual signs that your baby is beginning to teeth. Dr. Patel has a list of signals to watch out for including drooling. 

“The child will begin to put their fingers in their mouth,” she says. “Basically anything they can get their hands on. They might be a little fussier than usual.” 

Dr. Patel also explains that your child’s gum’s can indicate teething. She says that if they’re swollen and red, you can predict they’ll soon start teething. Like adults, kids have different tolerance levels, and some children don’t even know their teeth are coming in. 

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If it’s obvious your baby is dealing with discomfort, Dr. Patel recommends these teething tubes that children can chew on. They’re ideal because they allow your child to reach the teeth in the back of their mouths. 

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Tylenol is another option, but Dr. Patel says you should speak with your child’s doctor before administering this medicine. 

“Tylenol is great nowadays,” Dr. Patel says. “It comes with a little syringe with the bottle. You can administer it and the dosing is based on the child’s weight.” 

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When it comes to timing, teeth can come in as early as four months old. With this is mind, Dr. Patel explains that as soon as the first tooth pops up, it’s time to introduce the toothbrush. 

“We recommend a very friendly toothbrush with soft bristles,” she explains. “And we want you to start off with fluoride-free toothpaste. [Use a] very, very small rice grain smear of toothpaste so that way if the child ingests it or swallows it, it’s very safe.” 

When your child is ready, you will want to switch to fluoridated toothpaste once the teething process ends. According to Dr. Patel, this is around two to three years old. 

“Some children are a little bit late, some children have all their teeth by age two, but generally around two-and-a-half years old,” she notes. “By age three all babies should have all 20 teeth.”

If you liked this story, you might also enjoy a board-certified pediatrician on 3 at-home infant health must-haves.

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