Merck Manual

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Quick Facts



The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Dec 2019| Content last modified Dec 2019
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What is teething?

Teething is the stage in which babies’ teeth start to come through their gums.

  • Most babies get their first tooth when they're about 6 months old

  • By age 3, most babies have all 20 of their baby teeth

  • Teething babies are usually fussy, but despite what many people think, teething doesn't cause fever

Call your doctor if your baby is extremely fussy or has a fever higher than 100° F (37.8° C)—your baby is probably sick, not just teething.

What are the symptoms of teething?

A teething baby:

  • Cries and fusses more than usual

  • Doesn't sleep well

  • Eats less than usual

  • Drools

  • Has reddened gums

  • Chews on objects

How can I treat symptoms of teething?

To help your baby feel more comfortable:

  • Give your baby something safe to chew on, such as a firm teething toy or cool, gel-filled teething ring

  • Massage your baby’s gums with your finger or with ice

  • Give your baby pain medicine, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, if your baby is very uncomfortable

  • Don’t use teething gels—they don't help much, and they may contain benzocaine, which causes serious problems in some babies

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