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Most babies get their first milk tooth at around six months, usually in the front and at the bottom, but all babies are different. Some are born with a tooth already, and others have no teeth when they're one year old. Most will have all their milk (or primary) teeth by about two and a half. There are 20 primary teeth: 10 in the top row and 10 at the bottom. The first permanent 'second' teeth grow at the back at around the age of six.

Some teeth grow with no pain or discomfort at all. At other times you may notice that the gum is sore and red where the tooth is coming through, or that one cheek is flushed. Your baby may dribble, gnaw and chew a lot, or just be fretful.

If your baby has any pain or discomfort, you can ask your local pharmacist about gels and teething rings. If your baby is very uncomfortable, you may want to give them some sugar-free pain relief medicine for children. Make sure you read all instructions or ask your pharmacist about how to use them.

 

Teething tips

  • It can help to give your baby something hard to chew on, such as a teething ring, a crust of bread or breadstick, or a peeled carrot  (stay nearby in case of choking)
  • Don't give your baby rusks, because almost all brands contain some sugar. Constant chewing and sucking on sugary things can cause tooth decay even if your baby has only one or two teeth
  • For babies over four months old, you can rub sugar-free teething gel on their gums. You can get this from your local pharmacy. For younger babies, talk to your GP or health visitor
  • You could also give them some sugar-free baby paracetamol or ibuprofen. Follow the instructions on the bottle for your child's age, or check with your pharmacist, GP or health visitor

Looking after their teeth

As soon as your child has a tooth, you should start their tooth care routine. You can brush their teeth with a soft baby toothbrush and toothpaste. Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, once before bedtime and at one other time. Teach your child to spit, but don't rinse the toothpaste away or the fluoride will not work. Children need adult supervision cleaning their teeth until they are seven years old.

 

Choose care at home if…

  • Your baby is teething normally - teething troubles can be unsettling, but there's usually no need to see a doctor

Choose your pharmacist if...

  • Your baby has red cheeks and gums or is dribbling, off their food, chewing on things and seems cross - your pharmacist can help with teething rings, gels and pain relief

Choose 999 A&E if...

  • There are no reasons why you should need to go to A&E for problems with teething
  • A&E is for urgent, life-threatening illness and injury

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