The appearance of the first teeth
Teeth begin to develop months or even years before they pierce a baby's gums. In fact, buds of baby teeth appear as early as the 6th week of pregnancy, while buds of permanent teeth are present as early as the 10th week. The different parts of the tooth such as the enamel and the root will then develop according to a very precise sequence during the pregnancy. However, the buds of the permanent molars develop only after birth, around the age of 4 months for the first permanent molars and around the age of 5 years for the second permanent molars.
Meanwhile, the 32 adult teeth continue to develop in the jaws. They appear between about 6 and 12 years of age. As for the wisdom teeth, they usually erupt later. However, some people do not have any.
In the majority of cases, the 20 primary teeth (milk teeth) will erupt one after the other until about 3 years of age. Their age of appearance is very variable.
How can you relieve teething?
The pain associated with teething varies from child to child. Teeth that break through may go unnoticed, especially the first teeth. In other cases, their appearance may be accompanied by mild discomfort. A bluish cyst on the gums or an increase in salivation may also be observed when a tooth breaks through. These symptoms last approximately 24 to 48 hours. For more details, please consult our teething fact sheet.
Contrary to what many people believe, teething does not make a child sick and does not cause a high fever. In the case of a high fever, teething is rarely the cause, so it is best to consult Info-Santé or a doctor. Check our factsheets if your baby has a fever, diarrhea or a red bottom.
During teething, your child may put his hands in his mouth and seem to have itchy gums. No treatment is needed in this situation. However, there are a few simple methods that can help relieve it:
- Rub his gums with a clean finger;
- If they salivate a lot and feel the need to bite, give them a clean washcloth soaked in cold water or a refrigerated teething ring. Avoid putting the teething ring in the freezer, as this can cause your child to hurt his or her mouth;
- If necessary, you can give your baby acetaminophen.
It's best to avoid :
- Teething gels. They work on the surface and may interfere with your baby's ability to swallow.
- Teething cookies. They don't provide relief and can cause tooth decay because of the high sugar content.
- Raw vegetables. They can cause choking. Don't give your child very firm pieces of vegetables until he is 2 years old.
Caring for baby's teeth
Dental care is important from an early age because good dental health will have a positive impact on a child's life. It will allow them to chew well and to be able to eat all the foods they need to develop well. Good dentition is also essential for good language development. Finally, healthy teeth contribute to good self-esteem.
It's also a good idea to get your baby used to brushing his teeth as soon as the first teeth appear. That way, brushing will become part of his routine. For more information on how to take care of toddler teeth, see our Dental Hygiene fact sheet.