Teething stages

The first teeth or milk teeth develop when a child is in the womb. However, in most cases, they start emerging when the baby is around six months old. For some babies, the teeth emerge earlier while in others they come later on. In extreme cases, a baby can be born with teeth while others get their first teeth at 12 months. Each baby is different and the timing varies. Teething occurs when the milk teeth emerge.

The teething process begins at about five months or between four to seven months. In some cases, it may start as early as three months. At this time, the gums become red and swollen in the area where the teeth are coming up. The baby may feel pain, drool and become fussy.

Every child is different and so is each one’s teething process. One child may start teething at five months while another may start at seven months. Some children even go for a full year without even the first teeth. It is therefore important for a parent not to compare a child’s teething process with another one. However, it is advisable to mention it to a pediatrician if the baby attains one and a half years without any signs of teeth.

The teething process usually goes in a particular order although some children may not follow it. The first teeth to come out are the bottom front incisors followed by the top front. These are followed by lateral incisors, first molars, canines and later, second molars. The process can start when the baby is about three months and by the third birthday, the toddler should have all 20 primary teeth.

Teething order

Teething usually follows this order:

  1. Bottom front incisors— These are the first teeth to emerge when the baby is about five to seven months.
  2. Top front incisors— These appear when the baby is around six to eight months. They come up four to eight weeks after the bottom front incisors.
  3. Top lateral incisors— These are the teeth on either side of the top front teeth. They appear when the baby is around 9 to 11 months and a few weeks after the top front incisors.
  4. Bottom lateral incisors— These teeth are located on either side of the bottom front teeth and appear when the infant is around 10 to 12 months. They appear about a month after the top lateral incisors.
  5. Molar— The upper and lower first molars appear when the baby is around 12 to 16 months. These are the grinding teeth and their presence means that the baby can start chewing food.
  6. Canines— Also called cuspids or dog teeth, they are located towards the back between the incisors and the first molars and appear when the baby is about 18 months.
  7. Second molars— Back teeth that come through when the infant is about 20 to 30 months.

In most cases, all the milk teeth are out by the time a child is two and a half years to three years.

How to know when a baby is teething

Children react differently to teething. Some may experience various symptoms associated with teething while others do not experience any problems. Teething symptoms may also start even three months before the teeth appear while others may appear a few days before. Despite that, you should look out for some of these symptoms when you suspect your child is teething.

  • Drooling – Some babies always have saliva coming out of their mouth. However, during teething, the amount increases to the extent of wetting the clothes. The chin always remains wet. This is one sign that the baby is teething. Keep the baby clean by constantly wiping the chin and fastening a bib.
  • Biting – The baby may resort to biting while trying to apply counter pressure to their sore gums to remove the discomfort caused by the poking teeth. Teething objects such as teething toys and rings can come in handy and give the baby something to bite. If breastfeeding, the baby may also attempt to bite the breast.
  • Rash on the chin – Extensive drooling can cause the chin to have rashes and appear red. Patting the drool and using a moisturizer can prevent the rash.
  • Irritability – As the tooth presses on the gums, the mouth may ache and cause the child to be irritable. This may last for a few hours for some babies while others may stay that way for days or weeks.
  • Crying – If a child is suffering from teething pain, there is a high chance they will cry a lot. A lot of crying can be expected while the first teeth are coming in because they are not accustomed to the pain, as well as when the molars are coming in. Some babies do not cry while others cry intensely. It all depends on the baby. A good way to deal with crying is to relieve the pain using pain relievers such as ibuprofen or natural teething tablets.
  • Refusing to feed – If the sore gums are painful when the child tries to feed, then chances are they will refuse to feed. They are fussy about breastfeeding or using the bottle and even more frustrated if they are hungry. This also applies to infants feeding on solid foods because these foods may cause more pain to the sore gums.
  • Rubbing the cheeks and pulling ears – When an infant rubs the cheeks or tugs the ears, it could be a sign that the gums are aching.

Although not considered normal teething symptoms, some parents report that they find their infants with fever, running noses and loose stool in connection with teething.


Teething occurs from when a child is about five months old to when the first teeth start coming in. This process goes on until the child is about three years at which time they should have twenty primary teeth. Teething is a challenging time for some children although others do not exhibit any problems.

While some infants do not portray any teething symptoms, others exhibit some symptoms that can result in discomfort for both the child and the parent. It is important to note these symptoms in order to provide the needed relief to the infant and to understand why they may be fussy or not eating, which can give the parents cause for unnecessary concern. Teething is a natural part of growing even though it can often be unpleasant.