Teething can be an uncomfortable time for your baby, but the more you know about it, the more you can help your little one get relief and practice their new smile.

The teething experience can be different for every child. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about teething symptoms and remedies.

What age does teething start?

Your baby's first tooth may appear as early as three months or as late as a year or more. The average age is around six months.

If your baby was born premature, their teeth will likely take longer to start coming through.

How long does it last?

An individual tooth will usually only cause discomfort for a few days at most, but it can take longer for some babies. The whole teething process is usually complete by the age of two to three.

Is teething always painful?

Teething is associated with pain, but that's not always the case. Younger babies may appear to suffer more from teething,because they're less used to dealing with discomfort.

What are the symptoms of teething?

The first sign of teething that many parents notice is their child being sulky and irritable. But there are more common teething symptoms to look out for, including:

  • excessive drooling
  • red, swollen or bulging gums
  • redness on the cheeks or chin
  • an increase in biting, chewing and sucking behaviour
  • rejecting food
  • disturbed sleep
  • face rubbing or ear pulling.

If your child has a few of these symptoms together, it's likely due to teething, but that may not be the only cause.

Are symptoms worse at night?

Your baby may seem more bothered by teething discomfort at night when there are fewer distractions. Teething can cause some children to wake up several times through the night.

What remedies work for sore gums and teething?

If your child is feeling teething pain, there are many home remedies and products you can try to relieve these symptoms and soothe their aching gums. These include:

Gum massage: Making sure your fingers are clean, gently rub the sore areas of your baby's gums. This counter-pressure can give them some temporary relief.

Teething toys: Soft plush, plastic and rubber toys are safe for your baby to chew on and could soothe their gums.

Cold washcloth: Chill a damp, clean washcloth in the fridge or freezer and allow your child to gnaw on it. This can relieve some of the pressure and swelling.

Medicine: If home remedies aren't working, ask your paediatrician, dentist or chemist about safe pain relief options.

Are teething necklaces safe?

Amber teething necklaces and bracelets have become a popular remedy for easing teething pain, but the scientific claims of these products have not been substantiated.

They can also be a choking and strangulation hazard, so teething necklaces should never be used without supervision.

Can I still breastfeed?

Some babies prefer to nurse more often during teething for the comfort it provides, while for others the sucking action can make the pain worse.

If you're worried about your baby biting, gently massage their gums every so often using a clean finger or knuckle to help relieve the discomfort. If they do bite, pulling them away suddenly and yelling "ouch!" will usually give them the message.

What order do a baby's teeth grow in?

Teeth usually erupt in pairs and follow a routine according to the age of the child, but that's not always the case.

The two lower middle teeth (central incisors) are normally the first to appear at around six months, followed a couple of months later by the upper middle teeth. These are followed by the surrounding teeth (lower and upper lateral incisors) two months later.

The first back teeth (molars) typically appear at 12 to 14 months. These are the largest teeth in the mouth and can cause the most discomfort when they erupt. These are followed by the four canine teeth around 18 months and the second molars around two years of age.

Keep in mind that these are just rough guidelines. Every child is different and you might find that a younger child already has a tooth that your child doesn’t. Don’t worry – that’s totally normal.

Do teething babies eat less?

Some babies may find eating uncomfortable when their gums are swollen, while others may want to eat more often to feel the counter-pressure on their gums.

If a hunger strike or nursing strike persists for a few days, you should talk to your paediatrician.

Do teething babies poop more?

Teething shouldn't cause any change in the number of soiled nappies. One reason for this common misconception is that many parents begin feeding their children solid food at six months, around the same time teething starts. This is often what’s actually affecting any changes in your child’s bowel movements.

If your child has diarrhoea for longer than 24 hours, you should make sure they drink plenty of fluids and make an appointment to see your paediatrician.

When should I start to brush my child's teeth?

As soon as your baby's first tooth appears, you need to start taking care of it. Tooth decay can affect children of all ages, so it's important to keep it at bay through regular cleaning.

Gently brush or rub their milk teeth using water. You don’t need to use toothpaste because babies tend to simply swallow it! This should be enough, especially in areas where there’s fluoride in the drinking water, but consult with your dentist to be sure. By age three, your child can graduate to a small bit of fluoride toothpaste (smaller than pea-sized) twice a day.

Checking in with a dentist

Your child should have their first dental check-up by the time they reach their second birthday. Your dentist will make sure they feel as comfortable as possible while they check that their teeth and jaw are developing properly and look for any signs of problems.

Your dentist can also advise you on the best brushing technique and tips on nutrition.

Looking for a dentist? Find your nearest Bupa Dental clinic