The first tooth usually ‘erupts’ between 6–10 months and most children have a full set of 20 ‘baby’ (deciduous) teeth by 3 years. While teething is often uncomfortable, there is still ­controversy about what effect it has.

Teething is commonly thought to cause:

  • Drooling
  • Sucking or biting on objects
  • Irritability, crying, loss of appetite
  • Pulling the ear

However fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and many other complaints are unlikely to be due to teething and it is important to consider other causes like infection. See your GP if your child has a fever or is very upset.

How to treat teething

If your baby is unsettled, you can try:

  • Rubbing gums with a clean finger
  • A clean, cold teething ring or something firm like a sugar-free rusk
  • A teething gel to numb the gums. These are widely used but it is unclear if they work
  • Paracetamol. Measure the quantity carefully and do not exceed the recommended dose

Take care of your child’s teeth

A recent Australian Institute of Health and Welfare ­report found that half of all 6-year olds have had decay in their baby teeth.

From the first tooth, use a soft cloth or infant toothbrush at least twice a day. Toothpaste is not recommended until after 18 months.

Healthy eating and drinking also reduce tooth decay. Keep sugary food and drinks like fruit juice and biscuits to a minimum.

Don’t put your baby to bed with a bottle and never give a dummy dipped in honey or sugar. The Australian Dental Association recommends a first dental visit within 6 months of the first tooth or by the first birthday.

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  • Please note this information was correct at time of publication.
  • For up to date information, speak to your doctor.
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