AskDefine | Define teething

Dictionary Definition

teething n : the eruption through the gums of baby teeth [syn: dentition, odontiasis]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. the eruption, through the gums, of the milk teeth; dentition

Derived terms


  1. present participle of teethe

Extensive Definition

Teething is the process during which an infant's teeth start to sequentially grow in. Teething can start as early as three months or as late, in some cases, as twelve months. Occasionally a baby may even present with one or more teeth at birth. The typical time frame for new teeth to appear is somewhere between six and nine months. It can take up to several years for all 20 deciduous (aka "baby" or "milk") teeth to emerge. The process of teething is sometimes referred to as "cutting teeth".
The infant teeth tend to emerge in pairs - first one upper incisor emerges then the other upper incisor emerges before the next set begin to emerge. The general pattern of emergence is:
  1. Lower central incisors (2)
  2. Upper central incisors (2)
  3. Upper lateral incisors (2),
  4. Lower lateral incisors (2)
  5. First molars (4)
  6. Canines (4)
  7. Second molars (4)
Milk teeth tend to emerge sooner in females than in males. The exact pattern and initial starting times of teething appear to be hereditary. When and how teeth appear in an infant has no bearing on the health of the child.
During teething, the new teeth break through the surface of the gums. Signs of teething may include
  • Poor mood
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chewing of objects
  • Bruises/swelling in gums
  • Excess salivation
  • Runny nose
Teething has not been shown to cause fever. A slight rise of temperature may occur when the teeth come through the gum, but this does not make a baby ill.
Infants chew on objects to aid in the teething process. This can be dangerous if the baby is allowed to chew on objects which are small enough to be swallowed or which could break while being chewed and cause choking. Teething rings and other toys are often designed with textures that will appeal to an infant during teething.
In cases where the infant is in obvious pain, some doctors recommend the use of anti-inflammatories or child-safe pain-relief treatments containing benzocaine. Some infants gain relief from chewing on cold objects.
Dentists recommend brushing infants' teeth as soon as they appear. It is not advisable to wait for the teething process to be complete. Dentists may recommend against the use of fluoride toothpaste during teething.

See also

teething in Min Nan: Ni-khí
teething in German: Milchgebiss
teething in Dutch: Melkgebit
teething in Polish: Ząbkowanie (medycyna)
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