Symptoms and Signs of Teething

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 10/22/2021

Doctor's Notes on Teething

Teething refers to the eruption of teeth in the gums, commonly referring to babies acquiring their primary teeth. Teething is a normal process that usually occurs between 6-24 months of age. However, babies may get their first tooth and begin teething anywhere from 4-10 months of age. A relatively rare condition, "natal" teeth, means there is the presence of a tooth at birth. This happens in about 1 out of every 2,000-3,000 live births. 

Symptoms of teething, when present, usually begin a few days before eruption of a tooth. Symptoms and signs of teething include:

  • gum and jaw discomfort,
  • a slightly swollen or red area at the site of the erupting tooth, and
  • sometimes a blister over the involved area.

Associated symptoms can include:

  • fussiness,
  • increased drooling,
  • mild rash around the mouth,
  • putting hands in the mouth, and
  • refusal of food.

What Is the Treatment for Teething?

Home remedies that can help ease a baby’s teething symptoms may include:

  • Rubbing the baby’s gums with a clean finger or wet gauze
  • Using a cold spoon or a chilled teething ring (these should be chilled, never frozen)
  • Over-the-counter pain control remedies such as children’s ibuprofen or acetaminophen

It is best to avoid topical teething remedies that contain lidocaine or benzocaine, which can be harmful to babies. Certain homeopathic teething remedies have also been shown to contain chemicals that can cause health risks to babies.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.