Teething is a gruelling process for babies and it often takes a couple of years for all their milk teeth to appear, so prepare yourself for dealing with a baby experiencing teething pain for 2 years or more.
But fortunately for your little one, they are not in endless agony. Teething only causes pain around the time the tooth breaks through the gum, but may last for a few days at a time.
When teething pain can start
“Teething can start when your little one is as young as 3 months,” explains MadeForMums expert family GP Dr Philippa Kaye. “But often the first milk teeth appear when your child is between 6 and 9 months.”
By the time they reach 2, children generally have all 20 of their milk teeth, with the last set of molars coming through when they are around 2 to 2½ years.
“But as with all things when it comes to babies, there are no hard and fast rules” she reminds us.
Writing on our forum, mum Laurelli admitted son Matthew was crawling and clapping before his teeth appeared. “Matthew is 9 months and still no teeth,” she says. “But he’s starting to crawl, can clap hands and wave!”
When teeth do appear, they tend to appear in twos
“Often it’s the bottom two that come through together first, then the top two,” Dr Philippa advises.
“It tends to happen over a few days, usually around a week, but they can appear one after the other, which makes it feel like longer.
“Some children will cry and be generally miserable. Others won’t notice it as much.”
As a rough guide to when your baby’s teeth would usually emerge, Dr Phillippa gives us this timeline:
- 5-7 MONTHS: The bottom front teeth or ‘bottom incisors’
- 6-8 MONTHS: The top front teeth or ‘top incisors’
- 9-11 MONTHS: The teeth at either side of the top front teeth (lateral incisors)
- 10-12 MONTHS The bottom lateral incisors
- 12-16 MONTHS: The first molars – or the back teeth
- 16-20 MONTH: The canines, or teeth towards the back of the mouth
- 20-30 MONTHS: The second molars will generally be the last to appear
But this timeline and order won’t be the same for everyone.
For example, one mum on our forum reveals how her baby’s canines appeared first.
Artysmam explains: “My little one is cutting his canine teeth first; I can’t believe it but they are definitely cutting through.”
Will my baby still be teething after her 2nd birthday?
“Most children will have all their teeth by the time they are 2-and-a-half years old,” Dr Philippa says. “If they don’t though, it’s usually nothing to worry about.
And of course then you can start taking them to the dentist (Dr Philippa recommends signing them up to one as soon as their teeth start appearing).
“Regular exposure to the dentist makes this check-up normal and nothing to be afraid of and ensures your child’s teeth are looked after,” says Dr Philippa. “All children are entitled to free NHS dentist checks.”
Be prepared for on/off teething
As teething can be painful intermittently for around 2 years, you’ll need to be prepared with whatever you can to help ease the pain when it flares up (sometimes unexpectedly and without warning!)
You can try offering pain relief in the form of baby paracetamol or ibuprofen, or alternatively massage your child’s gums with a finger.
About our expert, Dr Philippa Kaye
Dr Philippa Kaye works as a GP in both NHS and private practice. She attended Downing College, Cambridge, then took medical studies at Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’s medical schools in London, training in paediatrics, gynaecology, care of the elderly, acute medicine, psychiatry and general practice. Dr Philippa has also written a number of books, including ones on child health, diabetes in childhood and adolescence. She is a mum of 3.