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Teething is when new teeth begin to come through your child's gums. A child's first tooth usually appears between 4 and 8 months of age. Your child should have 20 primary (baby) teeth by the time he is 3 years old.



  • Acetaminophen helps decrease pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much medicine is safe to give your child, and how often to give it.

  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.

  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Call your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

Help your child feel better while he is teething:

  • Let him chew. Give your child a cold (not frozen) teething ring or pacifier to chew on. Wet a clean cloth with cold water and offer it to your child to chew on. Do not leave your child alone while he chews on the washcloth.

  • Rub his gums. Gently rub his gums with a clean finger, cool spoon, or wet gauze.

  • Give him cold liquids or foods. Give your child cold (not frozen) juice to decrease pain. Cold fruit (such as a banana) or a cold vegetable (such as a peeled cucumber) are also good choices. Do not give your child hard foods, such as carrots, because he can choke.

What not to do:

  • Do not dip a pacifier or teething ring in sugar or honey.

  • Do not rub alcohol on your child's gums.

  • Do not use fluid-filled teething rings. The fluid may leak out of the ring.

  • Do not use teething gel unless directed by your child's healthcare provider.

  • Do not use frozen foods, liquids, or teething devices.

  • Do not tie a teething ring around your child's neck. The tie may strangle him.

  • Do not put your child to bed with a bottle.

Care for your child's teeth as they come in:

  • Schedule your child's first dental appointment. This should occur after your child's teeth begin to come in and before his first birthday.

  • Clean your child's teeth using a child-sized, soft bristle toothbrush and water. Clean his teeth twice each day. Begin adding a small amount of fluoride toothpaste to the toothbrush when your child is 2 years old. Teach your child to brush correctly. Do not let your child chew on the toothbrush or eat the toothpaste.

  • Do not let your child drink from a bottle while lying down or going to sleep. This can cause tooth decay and increase your child's risk of an ear infection.

  • Do not let your child walk around with his bottle. This can cause a tooth injury if your child falls. Do not let him drink from the bottle or breast for longer than a regular mealtime. This can lead to tooth decay.

  • Do not give your child fruit juice until he is 6 months or older. Children younger than 6 years should drink no more than ½ cup to ⅔ cup each day. Too much juice can cause diarrhea, upset stomach, and tooth decay. Give your child juice from a cup, not a bottle. Buy 100% fruit juice that is pasteurized.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.

  • Your child has nausea or diarrhea, or he is vomiting.

  • Your child continues to act fussy and irritable after his teeth have come in.

  • Your child's gum is red, swollen, and draining pus where the tooth is coming in.

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.