What is Early Teething?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 04 September 2019
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Early teething is the eruption of teeth in infants less than four months of age. There is nothing wrong with babies who develop teeth earlier than their peers and parents should not be concerned about babies who start teething earlier than expected. There are a number of things parents can do to make the teething process more comfortable and parents may want to discuss their options with a pediatrician.

Teething doesn't start with the appearance of the first tooth. Prior to the eruption of teeth, babies usually develop gum swelling and tenderness. They may be restless and fussy, can refuse food, and may engage in gumming and biting behavior as they attempt to deal with the unpleasant sensations in their mouths. Drooling also tends to increase as teeth are preparing for eruption. If parents notice these symptoms in a young infant, it's possible that early teething is the cause, although a pediatrician can conduct an evaluation to check for other possibilities.


One issue with early teething is that most medications designed to help babies while they are teething are not intended for use in very young infants. Before using numbing medications and other teething products available at drug stores and other stores that carry baby supplies, parents should check to see if they are safe for use. A pediatrician may have alternatives available if regular over-the-counter products cannot be used, or may be able to recommend an adjusted dosage for such medications so they can be used safely in a baby who is developing teeth early.

In addition to medications, there are other options for managing early teething. Teething toys are often appreciated, giving the baby something to gnaw on while teeth are developing. Many of these products are designed to be frozen, as cold objects can help numb the gums and make the baby more comfortable. Some parents turn to alternative medicine, using homeopathic remedies intended for teething.

During early teething, the teeth should be regularly checked for any signs of disease or other problems. A pediatrician can evaluate the baby's mouth periodically and identify any areas of concern. Providing proper nutrition is also important while babies are teething. Infants who appear to be in extreme pain during early teething may have other medical issues and should receive a comprehensive medical evaluation. Since infants cannot communicate, sometimes their only way of expressing pain and discomfort is persistent crying and fussiness, and these signs of distress should be taken seriously.



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