Baby teething: what you should know

By Anita Yee   — July 09, 2016
  • How long does it take for my baby’s teeth to appear?
    1 / 5 How long does it take for my baby’s teeth to appear?

    Most babies get their first tooth when they are about six to seven months old, and are likely to have a complete set when they turn 2½ years old, according to Dr Lee Leing, a dental surgeon at Raffles Dental.

    Genes play a part in how fast your child’s teeth grow. The first tooth can erupt as early as four months, or as late as a year.

    If your baby hasn’t had his first tooth by 16 to 18 months, do take him to a dentist.

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  • My baby keeps drooling and biting whatever he gets hold of. Is this a sign of teething?
    2 / 5 My baby keeps drooling and biting whatever he gets hold of. Is this a sign of teething?

    Babies start drooling when they turn two months old, but it isn’t entirely caused by teething.

    They don’t often develop full control of swallowing and mouth muscles till they are about two years old.

    Besides drooling, teething usually occurs with few other signs, like irritability and biting. The gums may feel sore and painful, Dr Lee adds.

    When molars erupt, they tend to cause more discomfort as they are larger.

    You may find your baby rubbing his cheek or ears.

    That said, some babies experience no problems during teething.

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  • How do I soothe his discomfort?
    3 / 5 How do I soothe his discomfort?

    You can rub sore gums with a clean finger brush (from baby-care stores), or wrap a soft towel over your finger.

    Not only does this provide relief, it also cleans your baby’s mouth and makes it easier to introduce tooth-brushing later.

    It’s never too early to introduce good dental-care habits.

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  • Other ways to soothe his discomfort...
    4 / 5 Other ways to soothe his discomfort...

    You can also let him gnaw on chilled teething toys (not frozen) to help relieve discomfort.

    Excessive drooling can irritate the skin, so wipe his mouth and chin regularly, Dr Lee reminds.

    If your little one is feeling irritable because of sore gums, you may offer him paracetamol, but check with your paediatrician first.

    Teething gel is another alternative, but buy one that doesn’t contain benzocaine – the topical anaesthetic is not safe for babies to swallow.

    Benzocaine is associated with methaemoglobinaemia, a rare but serious complication, which limits the ability of red blood cells to transport oxygen.


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  • Does teething cause fever?
    5 / 5 Does teething cause fever?

    Not directly, Dr Lee says. If fever occurs, it’s more likely because of his frequent hand-to-mouth movements to alleviate gum soreness – they increase the chances of transmission of viruses and bacteria, which cause cold or flu-like symptoms.

    What not to do when Baby has fever
    Vaccinations: what you must know 

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