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Teething – Symptoms and Comfort Suggestions

September 8th, 2020

There is no question about it. When your baby or toddler is teething, they are in pain until a tooth erupts. It can also be a frustrating and sometimes upsetting time for caregivers as they search for ways to help comfort the baby or toddler.

What can you expect as your child begins to teeth and how can you help? Find some tips below.

How old are children when they get teeth?

Every child has their own timeline for getting teeth but in general terms, most children begin teething when 6 months old. Usually the bottom teeth appear first followed by the top teeth.

A child will have their full set of baby teeth by about 3 years old – 10 in the top jaw and 10 in the bottom jaw.

Signs of teething and how you can help

Teething symptoms vary from child to child. And, symptoms may be worse for some teeth more than others. Symptoms reported by most parents include irritability, disrupted sleep, swelling or inflammation of the gums, drooling,(have lots of bibs and face cloths around!) loss of appetite, rash around the mouth, mild temperature, diarrhea, increased biting and gum-rubbing and even ear-rubbing or tugging.


Of course, the baby is irritable. Growing teeth hurts! 

Irritability is a result of the discomfort of the teeth erupting through the gums. Often the first teeth and molars are the most uncomfortable. And, as soon as the teeth erupt through the gums the pain and discomfort disappear.

How to help: Cuddle, cuddle, and cuddle again! Every teething baby can use some extra cuddles when teething. Then time spent giving extra cuddling can help soothe some of the pain, provide feelings of being comforted and reassured.

Drooling and Skin Rashes

Teething can stimulate drooling and many babies drool a lot! 

How to help: Be prepared with lots of clean bibs and cloths on hand as keeping the area around the mouth, chin, and neck clean dry will help prevent rashes in those areas.

If baby does get a rash topical barrier creams can help with dry, chapped, and sore skin.

Biting and Gnawing

Teething infants soon discover they can get rid of some of their discomfort by biting down on something. The counter pressure does alleviate some of the pressure beneath the gums.

How to help: Anything clean and cold such as a chilled teething ring, a cold damp facecloth, a chilled teething toy can help.

Adding water to various pouches of baby food and freezing them create fruit or vegetable popsicles which are enjoyed by many teething toddlers.

Teething cookies or biscuits are a “no, no” according to dental practitioners. The reason being is they stick to a baby’s teeth leading to potential tooth decay.

There are teething ointments, gels and tablets on the market but consulting with a doctor, dentist or health care provider about their usefulness and dosage is recommended.

Low Grade Fever

Note the term “low grade.” It is important to know that teething does not cause high fevers. If a child has a fever above 38.33 °C (101°F) contact a doctor as this may be indicative of something more serious than teething.

How to help: Use an age appropriate pain medication for a low-grade fever. Consult a health care professional if a high fever occurs.

Cheek rubbing and ear pulling

This is caused by pain in the gums than can travel to the cheek and ear. It happens especially when molars are coming in.

How to help: Rubbing and massaging the gums with a clean finger for one to two minutes can help with the discomfort. 

Do keep in mind however, that ear pulling and rubbing can also be indicative of an ear infection. If this symptom persists for an extended period and is accompanied by a high fever it is time to contact a doctor. Note also that teething symptoms should disappear after a tooth has erupted. If ear rubbing and tugging continue after the tooth has erupted consulting a health care professional is advised.

Teething and Diarrhea

Although there is not common consensus, some believe that increased saliva produced by drooling during teething can cause looser than normal stools. 

How to help: If the stool is just a little looser than normal there is nothing to worry about and it can be dealt with in the same manner used on previous occasions when a slightly loose stool was noticed. If, however, the stool becomes very watery, bowel movements are more frequent than usual, and the diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting and/or a high fever. Something more serious than teething can be afoot. Check with the child’s doctor.


Posted in Children's Dentistry, Dental Care