Teeth are formed in a baby's jaw even at birth1. Baby teeth typically start appearing from 6 months. These tips will help you understand the timing of teething and what Indian parents can do about it.
Schedule for baby teeth
The typical schedule for appearance of baby teeth is given in the chart below. The time range for baby teeth is anywhere from 6 months to the final molars appearing around 3 years of age. All the baby teeth will eventually fall out starting at 6 years of age and will be replaced by permanent teeth.
As can be seen in the chart, there is wide variation in the teething schedules of Indian babies. If your child's teething delayed well beyond the range specified, you should consult a doctor.
Download Indian Baby Teething Schedule (PDF)
Signs of teething
During teething the baby's teeth cuts through the tissue to jut out of his jaws. This process results in the baby feeling irritation and pain. Some of the signs2,3 of teething are:
- Baby will have the urge to bite on hard objects. This is to help soothe her gums through which the teeth are coming.
- Baby will also show general irritability, crankiness and crying
- Baby's gums will be tender and may be swollen
- Baby may stay awake for longer and may have sleeping problems
- Baby may also refuse food
- Baby may show a mild increase in temperature (38 degrees celsius or less)
- Facial rashes may appear on baby's face
- Baby may also rub his ears as the pain from the gums may extend in that direction
Research shows that these symptoms predominantly appear 4 days before the tooth erupts, and continue for 3 days after the tooth emerges2. Outside of this typical period, Indian parents should not attribute these symptoms to teething and should instead find alternative causes in consultation with their doctor.
Symptoms with no strong association to teething
The following symptoms are often attributed to teething but research indicates that there is no strong association between teething and these signs2. If these symptoms appear, parents should not ignore them as "teething problems". Research even shows that despite current medical research there is a deep rooted belief in the community and even amongst medical practitioners that these symptoms are due to teething4. Educate yourself on why alternate causes may be causing these symptoms.
- Diarrhoea or loose stools or increased stools
- Decreased consumption of liquids
- Fevers above 38 C (degrees celsius)
If these symptoms occur and persist, consult your doctor. Teething is a fairly simple developmental milestone and does not trigger any serious illnesses.
What can parents do?
Besides comforting the baby, parents can also
- Gently rub baby's gums with a cold wet cloth, or cold spoon
- You can also rub them with a clean finger or let baby chew on your finger
- Teething rings or teething toys can also give baby something to bite into. Some teething rings have liquids inside them. Babies have been known to bite through these rings and accidentally ingest these dangerous liquids. Also ensure that the teething device does not have small parts that can be broken off and swallowed by the baby, thus causing a choking hazard.
- If your baby is on solid food, try to give him colder foods as this will also help relieve the pain
Though teething has been blamed for a lot of illnesses in our experience, these tips will help Indian parents separate fact from fiction and guide their baby through another amazing developmental milestone.
1. Indian Dental Association, "Your Child's Teeth"
2. Macknin, Michael L., Piedmonte, Marion, Jacobs, Jonathan, Skibinski, Christine, "Symptoms Associated With Infant Teething: A Prospective Study", Pediatrics 2000 105: 747-752
3. "Healthy Start, Grow Smart, Your Five Month Old", U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C., 2002
4. "Teething symptoms: cross sectional survey of five groups of child health professionals", Melissa Wake, Kylie Hesketh, BMJ 2002;325:814
This is a excellent way to teach kids about oral health. Look forward to more such initatives