What are the Signs and Symptoms of Teething?

Believe it or not, your little one is born with their baby teeth. They’re just under the gum still and take their time erupting. So when can you expect to see these tooth buds start pushing through your child’s gums and what should you expect during the process?

What are the signs of teething

When does teething begin?

Teething is when your baby’s first tooth begins to erupt and while it can be fun to watch their smile transform, this eruption process can bring on some less than comfortable symptoms. But not to worry, they are manageable and overall short-lived. For some babies, teething can begin as early as 4 months of age or as late as one year and the first ones to expect are the bottom front two teeth. Teething typically ends when the last set of molars come in, usually around the third birthday. 

It is common to notice teething signs and symptoms, however, before you see these little buds make their appearance. But, let’s differentiate what is normal to expect during this stage and when you should investigate further. 

Common Signs and Symptions Associated with Teething 

Excessive Drooling 
Now is a good time to stock up on bibs! During the teething process, saliva is stimulated and you’ll likely notice your laundry hamper filling up with damp bibs more than usual. You may even notice your child’s skin around their mouth or neck becoming slightly irritated from saliva. Try keeping areas of drool clean and dry and change bibs often. This will help reduce the chance for a rash. If you notice their skin becomes dry or chapped, you can use a moisturizing cream to help with healing. 
Irritability and Fussiness
Teething is no walk in the park for your child. It is uncomfortable, and you may notice more crying in your home and a tougher time falling or staying asleep. You may consider giving your child infant or children's over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) if they are extremely uncomfortable. Be sure to check medication labels for dosing based on their age and weight. It is not recommended for babies under 6 months of age to have ibuprofen. 
Chewing on things
Are you finding your little one constantly putting things in their mouth to chew or bite on? Chewing and gnawing helps soothe their gums from the pressure of newly erupting teeth. Massage your baby’s gums with a damp cloth or clean finger to help ease the pressure. Try having designated teething toys around to help eliminate the risk for a choking hazard. Chilled (refrigerator) teething rings are also great options because the coolness is a natural soothing mechanism that feels good to the gums, but avoid freezing these items. Freezing will make the teether too hard and could cause damage to their teeth or gums. When looking for teething rings, stay clear from plastic or liquid filled items because they may break and could harm your child. 
If you like to get creative in the kitchen, consider making homemade popsicles with yogurt, or freeze fresh fruit or veggie puree. Be cautious of adding sugary substances (juice) to the popsicles to help reduce the risk for cavities. If you’re looking for a quick form of relief for your child, look for the Munchkin fresh food feeder and just add frozen fruit or an ice cube.
Slight Increase in Temperature - BUT NOT A FEVER!
It is important to know the difference between a slight increase in temperature and a fever. If your child’s temperature ranges between 98-100 degrees, it could be associated with teething according to the Mayo Clinic, although, If their temperature rises above 100.4 degrees (rectal), consider contacting your pediatrician. 
Loss of Appetite 
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), your child may lose some of their appetite during the teething phase. If you notice a significant change in their diet, contact your pediatrician to ensure your child does not become dehydrated. 

Symptoms NOT Associated with Teething

According to the ADA, the following symptoms are not caused by teething and you should contact your pediatrician if you notice any of them as they can be related to other illnesses. 
  • Fever > 100.4
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash (different than slight skin irritation around the mouth, chin, neck from drool) 

What to Avoid?

There are some products on the market that should not be used when your child is teething and can be harmful and dangerous:  
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises against numbing topical gels and tablets. Benzocaine, the numbing agent in gel products, can be very harmful to your child and because babies drool so much anyway, the gel wouldn’t even last on their gums. Avoid purchasing products under the product name Anbesol, Hurricaine, Orajel, Baby Orajel and Orabase to treat teething pain. Homeopathic teething tablets have been tested by the FDA and may contain a toxic substance, belladonna, which can contribute to seizures and troubled breathing according to the Mayo Clinic.
  • Frozen or liquid filled teething rings
  • The FDA warns against teething necklaces and jewelry because the beads may break and lead to choking or the jewelry may become a strangulation hazard 

The signs and symptoms associated with teething may also be related to a cold or minor illness. Teething symptoms are typically short-lived and can be managed at home. If you suspect your child is not feeling their best, consider contacting your pediatrician. And remember, once your child’s teeth begin erupting, it’s important to keep them clean by brushing or cleaning with the Grin baby silicone finger brush or damp cloth to keep bacteria associated with cavities away! 

Grin Natural Baby Silicon Toothbrush

About the author 

Kristen Cockrell, MS, RDH. Kristen is a Registered Dental Hygienist with a passion for preventive pediatric dentistry and oral health education. Kristen earned her master’s degree in dental hygiene education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Thanks to Sarah Liebkemann for the educational graphic @sll.stories


U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Mayo Clinic, American Dental Association (ADA)

Photo credits to our beautiful Grin mama @rebeccabrooketaylor