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Teething: Common Concerns

Topic Overview

If your baby is teething, you may have questions that many other parents ask.

  • Are my baby's symptoms caused by teething? When teething, many babies drool. Teething happens during the same time that babies are putting "everything" into their mouths. (Your baby is going through the oral discovery phase of development.) Drooling can cause a rash on the chin, face, or chest. Some babies can also seem cranky during teething. This is likely because of soreness, swelling, and tenderness around the gums of the erupting tooth. Babies may bite on their fingers or toys to help relieve the pressure in the gums. They may also refuse to eat and drink because of mouth soreness. These symptoms usually begin about 3 to 5 days before a tooth erupts, and they disappear as soon as the tooth breaks through the gum. Other babies do not show any signs of discomfort from teething. Mild symptoms that gradually improve usually are nothing to worry about and may even be related to a viral infection or other condition. Severe or ongoing symptoms should be closely watched and discussed with your doctor.
  • Why are my baby's teeth not coming in as expected? Some babies' teeth erupt later than average or in an unusual pattern. Often this is a result of a normal developmental variation. Sometimes delays or irregular eruption patterns are caused by minor problems, such as another tooth in the path of an erupting tooth, not enough space in the jaw, or failure of a tooth to break through the gum (impaction). A delay in eruption, absence of teeth, or crooked teeth may also be related to a birth defect of the mouth or jaw, such as cleft palate. In very rare cases, a baby does not develop primary teeth at all. If your 18-month-old has not had any teeth erupt, talk with your doctor.
  • What if my baby loses a baby tooth because of an injury? Early loss of a primary tooth may delay or speed up the eruption of a permanent tooth. If the primary tooth loss occurs long before the expected eruption of the permanent tooth, a dentist may need to place a spacer in the child's mouth. If a spacer is not used, teeth on each side may tip into the space, causing an impaction.
  • Why does my baby have a double row of teeth? A secondary (permanent) tooth coming in behind a primary (baby) tooth may result in a double row of teeth. This usually is not a problem. But permanent teeth may come in crooked if the child has a small upper or lower jaw that doesn't provide enough room for all the teeth.
  • What if my child has a small jaw? Although many children with a small upper or lower jaw have enough space for all their primary teeth, they may not have enough room in their mouth for all 32 permanent teeth. This can lead to crooked teeth. Discuss this concern with your doctor or dentist.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine
Last Revised April 16, 2013

Last Revised: April 16, 2013

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