Know just what to expect when bubba’s teething. Plus, get expert advice on how to soothe those swollen gums!

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Your newborn will start to teethe at around the time you start weaning them off their milk feeds, around 6 months of age.

Associate Professor Catherine Hong, assistant dean at the National University of Singapore’s dentistry faculty, notes that the two lower front teeth ― the incisors ― will be the first to come in. “This is followed by the four upper front teeth, then the remaining two lower front teeth, followed by teeth at the back, called molars.”

You should also note that your kewpie’s teeth also tend to erupt two at a time — one on each side — on the left and right. By age 3, their once gummy grin would have typically turned into a full set of 20 milk teeth. And it’ll stay that way until they’re about age 7.

That said, Prof Hong notes that it’s also not uncommon for some children to get their first tooth only at age 1. “As such, do not panic if your child’s teething status doesn’t follow the [usual] sequence.”

In rare instances, your child’s teething will be delayed if they have a missing tooth bud, hormonal problems or rare genetic disorders. Do bring your child to a dentist if his or her first tooth has not erupted by 18 months.

Otherwise, you should look out for signs of teething. Prof Hong notes that common indications include biting on their fingers or toys to relieve their sore gums. Here are some other lesser-known signs of teething to watch for:

1) Bubba’s sleeping pattern is disrupted Sore gums won’t just make your mini-me more irritable during the day, their sleep patterns will also be affected. Instead on sleeping on their side, they’ll be twisting and turning to find a more comfortable position.

2) Tugging at their ears or touching their chin and cheeks It’s a natural reaction for your little one to self-soothe, so they try and ease the pain by exerting pressure on their trouble spots.

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3) Has a fever
If you don’t manage your cherub’s sore gums properly, some babies may start to display signs of a flu or cold, which is the body’s way of reacting to inflammation. Also, look out for changes like chills, fatigue or loss of energy and muscle stiffness. It’s best to seek medical advice to avoid more serious health conditions.

4) Rashes on their face Your kewpie’s body’s first reaction to teething is to produce saliva to provide adequate lubrication. If you aren’t diligently cleaning up excess saliva, it can cause rashes to appear on their face, neck and cheeks.

5) Nursing longer than usual While you may be wondering if baby’s feeding more often because he is going through a growth spurt — it may not be the case. Sucking — sometimes even biting — on your breast can give them the same kind of relief as sucking on their pacifier.

6) Refusing to eat Aching gums will make them turn away when you offer food when they’ll normally chow down happily. Try giving them crunchy finger foods under your watch as the harder texture may relieve painful gums.

How to manage the pain

If you’re giving your child a teether, do check to see if they are safe for your baby. It should be free of toxic chemicals and washed and dried before use.

Prof Hong says you may also want to switch out their teethers for frozen fruit and vegetables such as bananas, sliced fruit and cucumbers.

You may also be keen to try apply over-the-counter teething gels. Just make sure to check with a dentist that it’s safe before using on your tot.

Above all, it’s important to observe oral hygiene. Prof Hong states, “Do continue to gently brush and clean the erupting tooth and surrounding area to reduce the risk of infection.”

Photos: iStock

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