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Teething is a normal part of life for an infant past the newborn stage. As a parent, it’s helpful to know how your infant might be feeling as baby teeth come in and how you can soothe him or her during the process. Here’s what you need to know if your infant is about to start teething.

What Are Common Teething Symptoms?

For some babies, teething can begin without any symptoms, while others make it very clear they’re experiencing discomfort in their gums. Some of the most common signs of teething include irritability, swollen gums, loss of appetite and trouble sleeping. Many babies also drool more than usual while teething, which can cause the skin around their mouth to become red and irritated.

There are some symptoms that you might assume are related to teething but actually aren’t. Examples include a fever, diarrhea and a runny nose. If your infant exhibits these issues, let his or her doctor know, because they likely aren’t due to teething.

When Do Babies Start Teething?

You should start looking for the typical teething symptoms once your infant is about four months old, though some babies don’t begin teething until about six months of age. It will take a few years for your baby to get all 20 of his or her baby teeth, so you may be seeing teething symptoms until age three when the molars finish coming in.

Keep in mind that the age your baby is when he or she starts teething is related to genetics. So if you didn’t start teething until six months or older, your baby may might not, either.

How Can You Soothe a Teething Baby?

If you suspect your baby is teething, place a clean finger in his or her mouth and feel around for the budding tooth. Once you locate it, gently rub the area for a few minutes. You can also give your baby a cold teething ring to chew on and offer age-appropriate over-the-counter pain relief medicine when you feel it’s necessary.

Any time you put your finger in your child’s mouth to rub his or her gums, check the teeth for spots that look whiter, as these can indicate decay. After all, when you let your baby go to sleep with a bottle of any drink that contains sugar, acids form and attack the enamel on the teeth. This can cause damage to the baby teeth as the child sleeps, which is why it’s important to avoid giving him or her anything but water in the bottle overnight.

If you have any questions or concerns about your infant’s baby teeth, contact a pediatric dentist immediately for help keeping the teeth and gums healthy.