How Can I Tell When My Baby’s Teeth Are Hurting Them?

As adults, most of us know what tooth pain feels like and how unpleasant it can be. Fortunately, we are able to recognize the onset of our discomfort and make an appointment with the dentist! Unfortunately, babies don’t have this luxury of doing so. For one, they may not recognize what tooth pain or the effects of “teething” may feel like, nor can they tell us about it! At most, as parents, we may only be able to identify that something could be off with our little one. But, is there a way to specifically tell when our baby’s teeth are hurting?

Dental Development:

As North Raleigh dental experts, we will answer this in detail, it is important to look at dental development in children! First, the baby (primary) teeth come in and are later shed to make room for the permanent (adult) teeth. At birth, an individual is said to have 20 baby teeth, although some may have fewer depending on various factors. Generally, the lower front teeth are the first baby teeth to erupt in the mouth (around 6-10 months) and then followed by the others. Then the baby teeth tend to fall out continuously throughout childhood.


Now that you know roughly the age range of when the baby teeth are likely to come in, you should know that this time period is also referred to as “teething” and while your baby can’t use words to tell you that their teeth may hurt, they certainly can communicate this in other ways.

For example, the American Dental Association recognizes that there are common symptoms that are associated with teething, which are as follows:

  • Fussiness
  • Trouble sleeping or wakefulness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drooling (excessively or more than normal)

If you notice that your baby may have any of these symptoms, you should know that these are normal and that these may be helpful indicators that your baby may be experiencing discomfort from teething. Additionally, while your baby is teething be on the watch for any symptoms of fever, diarrhea, rash, or excessive discomfort. Should you notice any of these symptoms in addition to any other unfamiliar symptoms, you should call your pediatrician immediately.

What You Can Do?

If your baby is experiencing pain or discomfort during teething, you can certainly try your best to comfort your little one as much as possible.

Be sure to continue monitoring your baby for an unfamiliar symptoms or signs of discomfort while they are teething. Remain alert for any physical changes that may be taking place in your child’s mouth like if you notice a rash around your baby’s mouth or chin, which indicates excessive drool drying out the skin.

Other tips for making teething or discomfort a little easier for your baby are as follows:

  • Remove any excessive drool from your baby’s mouth by wiping it with a gentle cloth. This can help to prevent the likeliness of a rash from occurring.
  • With a clean finger or moistened gauze pad you can rub your baby’s gums to provide relief. The pressure can help to ease the discomfort they are feeling.
  • Try to give your baby something to chew on this can help to keep them occupied, as well as provide relief. Be sure to make sure that it is large enough it can’t be swallowed and can’t break into small pieces. You can also try giving your baby a wet washcloth and placing it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Don’t allow the washcloth to become rock hard as it could potentially hurt your precious one’s little gums. Also, make sure you are washing the cloth after each individual use.
  • Be conscious of the teethers that you choose, this can't be stressed enough. Even if something is marketed and presented as a “teether,” this doesn’t always mean it is safe to give to your baby. Avoid teethers filled with any liquids or objects that could break. Instead, look for teethers made of solid rubber. You should also never put a rubber teether in the freezer, only use the refrigerator to chill it.
  • If you are given the approval from your pediatrician and feel comfortable giving your baby ibuprofen or any other pain reliever to help ease any discomfort.

Lastly, but most importantly, give your baby the most snuggles and love you possibly can to make them feel comforted during a difficult time. This can certainly make a huge difference for them and their teething experience!

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Jennifer Shackelford

Hi, I’m Jennifer, the founder and editor of On The Mama Needs, I write about experience with pregnancy, raising kids, and nutrition for both kids and expectant moms.. I love that blogging brings parents together and lets our readers know they’re not the only ones going through these experiences. I love seeing comments on my posts that say “I thought it was just me! I’m so glad it’s not!” Being a parent is hard, but friends and blogs really help.

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