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Saying Goodbye to that Toothy Grin

Saying Goodbye to that Toothy GrinI forget where I originally read it – and darned if I can find the link now! – but I heard that babies stick out their tongues right after the first tooth comes in.

We’d been feeling Ashley’s first tooth right below the surface for more than a week. We were lying in bed, she had just finished nursing and I was ready to read her a bedtime story, when she stuck out her little tongue.

“Let me see that” I said, putting my finger in her mouth. And there it was! For two days, I still couldn’t see it but I could feel it.

Her second bottom tooth came in on Mother’s Day. Today, the first top tooth is lingering just below the gum – I thought I felt it surface this morning but I was mistaken.

Teething may begin just a short time before those first central incisors show their cute little tops or, if your child is like my daughter, it could begin very early and seem to go on forever. She started teething at about three-and-a-half months; her first tooth didn’t show up until almost seven months on the dot.

Teeth typically follow this pattern, with the bottom teeth in the set usually coming in first:

  • Bottom central incisors
  • Top central incisors (these come in anywhere from immediately after the bottom teeth to a month or two later)
  • Two additional bottom incisors, followed by two additional top incisors
  • Four back molars
  • Four canines
  • Four additional back molars

There are 20 teeth in a set of baby teeth, and by about 24 months, they will usually all come in – a happy moment for parents when teething is finally over!

Signs of teething include:

  • Drool – lots and lots of it!
  • Chewing everything in sight. Babies put nearly everything in their mouth – it is one of the ways they explore their world. But if they really start to gnaw down on everything they get their little hands on, they might be teething.
  • Refusal to eat (Would you want to nurse or eat if your mouth ached?)
  • Frequent night-waking after baby has been sleeping through the night
  • General fussiness (Again, what kind of mood would you be in if, quite literally, hard objects were poking their way through your gums!)
  • Tugging at the ears

Many doctors say that a low-grade fever and/or a stuffy or runny nose are not signs of teething but may be a sign of infection. By all means, follow your pediatrician’s instructions and if you are concerned about a fever, call the doctor. However, I have noticed that my daughter gets a stuffy nose – her cries sound nasally and she sniffles a bit – every time a tooth has come in and also when her other teething symptoms seem worse. She hasn’t run a fever while teething yet, which I’m sure would be more of a concern.

Since pain in the mouth often radiates up to the ear, and infants can’t really tell the difference, a teething infant may also pull on her ear. However, this symptom combined with a fever could also indicate an ear infection. Trust your instincts, but err on the side of caution if you suspect there’s more at play than teething!

Moms — what sort of teething symptoms have you noticed and how long after that did your baby’s teeth come in?

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