When Do Babies Start Teething, and What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

You’ll never forget when your baby's first tooth starts coming in, not to mention those adorable toothy smiles that you'll look forward to every time there’s a new tooth. If you're wondering when your baby’s teeth will initially appear, keep in mind that the timing of teething varies widely from baby to baby. Read on to discover when your baby may start teething, the signs and symptoms of teething, how long teething typically lasts, and much more.

When Do Babies Get Their First Teeth?

So, at what age do babies start teething? The process of teething often starts when babies are between 6 and 12 months old, though in some cases those first teeth may appear earlier or even a little later. In some very rare cases newborns may be born with a tooth already erupted, or have a tooth come through in the first few weeks. Asking yourself “Why is my 3-month-old chewing on their hands and drooling?” These are classic signs of teething. Look out for the signs of teething, such as tender gums, drooling, or gnawing on a fist or finger, all of which may indicate that you’ll soon be seeing a tooth emerge.

What if Teething Starts Later Than You Expect?

It's helpful to remember that growing teeth is not a competitive sport, and that your baby's teeth will arrive when they are ready. So, don't be concerned if your friends' children get teeth before your baby does. So, how early can babies get teeth? The age range can be quite broad when it comes to teething. Though it's likely that teething may begin between 6 and 12 months, the first tooth may appear as early as 3 or 4 months or as late as 14 months. Some babies might even be slightly outside of this range on either side. Genetics may play a role in the timing. Of course, if you're concerned about your baby’s teeth (or lack thereof) or have any questions about dental care, speak to their healthcare provider or dentist.

Which Teeth Come in First

Each baby is different, but typically your baby’s two bottom front teeth will come in first, followed by the two top front teeth. We cover when baby teeth typically come in in more detail in our teething timeline.

How Long Does Teething Last?

The duration of the teething process can vary. At some point between your child's second and third birthdays; however, your little one will have a full set of 20 primary teeth. This means the total teething period lasts about two years. If your little one has teething discomfort, know that this will probably come and go. Teething symptoms are typically experienced in the days before a tooth erupts; then the soreness subsides until a new tooth starts to come in.

How Many Teeth Do Babies Get?

Your little one’s first set of teeth are known as primary or baby teeth. By the time they’re 2 and a half to 3 years old they will have a full set of 20 baby teeth. Wondering, when do your child’s baby teeth come out? When your child is around 6 or 7 years old, the baby teeth will start falling out to make way for their permanent teeth, sometimes called secondary teeth. It takes many years for all 32 secondary teeth to come in, so for a while there your child will have a mix of primary and secondary teeth.


In Summary

  • Your child’s first set of teeth are called baby teeth or primary teeth
  • There’s a wide range of normal for when teething will start
  • Teething often starts between 6 and 12 months
  • Teething usually lasts about two years in total
  • Your baby will likely have a full set of 20 baby teeth by the time they’re between 2 and 3 years old
  • Baby teeth start to fall out when your child is about 6 or 7 years old, and are gradually replaced with adult teeth (secondary teeth).


Signs and Symptoms of Teething

Sometimes a tooth may appear without any symptoms at all whereas in other cases symptoms of teething could start about three to four days before the tooth itself is visible. So, how can you tell your baby is teething—what does it look like? Read on for what teething signs and symptoms you might see in your baby or toddler.

As the baby teeth grow and break through the gums, teething symptoms can include:

  • Irritability. Your little one might seem a little fussier and may cry more than usual.

  • Disturbed sleep. Teething pain or discomfort may cause your baby to wake up during the night.

  • More drooling. It’s common for a teething baby to drool a lot when teething. Experts say the extra saliva can help soothe the tender gums. Around this time your baby may experience what’s commonly called a teething rash or drool rash from the extra saliva irritating the skin around their mouth. Just be sure to wipe off any drool to prevent this type of rash.

  • Chewing on things. When your baby is teething, they may gnaw on toys, a teething ring, or even their own fingers to help relieve the pressure they feel on their gums. Chewing on something firm helps massage the gums and helps ease any discomfort as the tooth tries to erupt.

  • Sore, swollen gums. The spot on the gums where a tooth is coming through may be tender, red, and swollen.

  • Low-grade temperature. During teething, your little one’s temperature may be slightly elevated, sometimes called teething fever, but teething is unlikely to cause a fever higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit. If your baby seems very uncomfortable or has a temperature of at least 101 degrees (or at least 100.4 degrees for a baby under 3 months), contact your little one’s healthcare provider, who can determine what's causing the fever.



In Summary

The signs and symptoms of teething can include:

  • Crankiness
  • Crying
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Drooling
  • Chewing on items or fingers
  • Sore, swollen, red gums.


How to Soothe Your Teething Baby

Teething can be uncomfortable for some babies, and as there’s no magic technique that works for every child, you may have to experiment to find something that gives your little one relief from the teething pain. Among the many remedies to soothe your teething baby are these two quick ideas on how to help your teething baby or toddler:

  • Give a teething ring. Chewing on one of these rings lets your teething baby massage their own gums. Some types can be cooled in the fridge to give extra relief, but don’t put a teething ring in the freezer—this can make it too hard and cold for your little one’s sensitive gums. To keep your little one safe, never tie a teething ring to a string that’s looped around your baby’s neck or clipped to their top.

  • Massage your baby’s gums. Using a clean finger, gently massage your baby’s sore gums.

How to Care for Your Baby’s New Teeth

It’s important to start caring for your baby’s teeth (or tooth) as soon as the first one pokes through. Those baby teeth must last several years before they’re replaced with adult teeth and establishing good dental hygiene habits early on will help set your little one up for healthy teeth and gums throughout their life. Taking steps to prevent cavities and tooth decay in baby teeth is just as important as it is with adult teeth, because decay in these teeth can affect the permanent teeth that follow and cause other dental problems like pain and infections.

Brushing Your Baby’s Teeth

Regular brushing is an important part of dental care. The key thing at this stage is to gently clean baby teeth twice a day and to get your little one used to the brushing routine. Here are some guidelines for brushing your baby’s teeth, as well as some tips on teaching your older child how to get the job done, with your help:

  • Brush at least twice a day, always brushing after your child has had anything sugary as well as after the last meal or drink of the day

  • Put a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste on a soft-bristled toothbrush designed for your baby’s age. Carefully brush each tooth, making sure to reach all the surfaces, including the sides and the inside surface. Once your child is about 2 years old you can start using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. You'll need to teach them how to rinse and spit, rather than swallowing the toothpaste.

  • The direction of the brush stroke doesn’t really matter. The key is to clean each tooth from all angles, making sure you reach the back teeth as well

  • For now, you’ll need to brush your baby’s teeth. As they reach the toddler and preschooler stage, help them begin brushing their own teeth, under your close supervision. You'll need to lend a hand until they’re 7 or 8 years old to ensure those teeth get a thorough clean. Here are some ideas for how to make toothbrushing more fun for both of you.


Your little one’s diet is a big part of dental health. Avoid giving your child sugary drinks like fruit juice and sodas, or sticky sweet snacks like gum, toffee, and sticky caramel. Also, don’t let your baby fall asleep with a bottle or sippy cup of milk, formula, juice, or any other sweet drink, as this can cause the sugary liquid to pool in his mouth and lead to tooth decay.

Dental Checkups

Getting professional care from a dentist is crucial for the healthy development of your child’s teeth, mouth, and gums. Usually, the first dentist visit should take place within about six months of the first tooth poking through or by the time your child is 12 months old, whichever comes first. Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, you can make an appointment at any time. Your baby’s healthcare provider will also check your baby’s teeth and gums at his regular well-child checkups.



In Summary

To care for your child’s baby teeth

  • Brush your baby’s teeth twice a day
  • Use a soft-bristled brush and a rice-size smear of fluoride toothpaste
  • Schedule the first dental checkup by the time your baby is 12 months old
  • Don’t let your baby fall asleep with a bottle or sippy cup in their mouth
  • Avoid giving your baby sugary drinks or foods, but if you do, brush their teeth afterwards.


When to See Your Baby’s Healthcare Provider

If your little one is showing symptoms like fever, irritability, or diarrhea, or any other signs of childhood illness, and you’re not sure whether it’s related to teething or something else, it’s safest to call your healthcare provider so an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan can be made. You should also contact your baby’s healthcare provider if you’re concerned about how much discomfort your baby is in due to teething. The provider may recommend some form of pain relief while also making sure that nothing else is wrong to cause the elevated levels of pain or discomfort. Do not use baby teething medicine gels to numb the gums, as these are dangerous. You'll also want to consult your baby’s healthcare provider or dentist if your baby has a tooth problem or injury, such as a broken or chipped tooth.

Interesting Facts About Baby Teeth

Want to know more about teething and those white-as-can-be baby teeth? Here are some fun facts about your little one’s teeth:

  • On average, about four teeth will poke through every six months during the teething process

  • Girls' teeth may erupt a little sooner than boys' teeth

  • The bottom teeth tend to erupt before the same type of tooth on the top

  • Teeth usually erupt in symmetrical pairs; in other words, one tooth on the right side of the jaw and the same type of tooth on the left side of the jaw will poke through at roughly the same time

  • Your child’s primary teeth are smaller and whiter than the permanent teeth that will replace them in a few years’ time

  • From around the age of 4, your child’s face and jaw will begin to grow and change shape, and this will create gaps in his smile as the baby teeth won’t catch up in size. This is completely normal—it’s the mouth’s way of making space for the bigger adult teeth that will follow.

  • Your baby’s secondary teeth will be coming in when they’re about 7 or 8 years old. Because it will take a little while before your child has a full set of adult teeth, for several years your child will have a mix of baby and adult teeth.

  • Your baby has 20 primary teeth but will have many more secondary teeth. By the time your child is in their teens or early 20s, they'll have between 28 and 32 adult teeth.

FAQs at a Glance

Signs that your baby is teething can include:

  • Being cranky or crying a lot
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Drooling more than usual
  • Chewing or gnawing on an object
  • Tender, red gums where the tooth is coming through.

The Bottom Line

Teething can sometimes be a challenging time for your baby and you. Try to keep in mind how important those teeth are, helping your child chew and bite into the nutritious foods that are fueling his growth and development. If you’re still waiting for that first tooth, know that it will be here soon enough, and more will be on the way. Each new tooth that emerges will make that smile even more adorable than it was before. Take good care of your baby’s tiny teeth and before you know it the gaps in your little one’s smile will be filled in with some of the cutest, whitest teeth you’ve ever seen!

How We Wrote This Article The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

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