6. When are kids most likely to be cranky due to teething?
7. What are the best safe and soothing teething objects?
"Hard and cold stuff is best to give," says Dr. Haller. He suggests hard plastic toy rings (in a variety of different textures), washcloths soaked in cold water, frozen bagels, and frozen waffles (when they start to thaw out and get gummy, be sure to remove them). Leaving safe chew toys in a child's reach is also a good idea, he adds.
Dr. Lennon suggests a cool teething ring to soothe pain and satisfy a baby's desire to chew. "It can be chilled in the refrigerator but should not be frozen," she adds. (Frozen plastic teething rings can potentially cause gum damage as well as hurt new teeth.)
8. Besides medication, what can parents do?
"Comfort is helpful," points out Dr. Haller, who also mentions that teething pain usually doesn't last that long and medicine should only be used as a last resort. "If you get on top of it right away you can usually fix it quickly [through comfort]."
Dr. Lennon suggests comfort measures as well. "Gently massage the gum with a clean finger or cool washcloth," she says. "Acetaminophen may help control the pain," she adds as a caveat for that last-ditch effort to help little ones feel better, "But follow the directions on the box carefully or ask your child's doctor how much to give."
9. Which teeth appear first?
"The bottom front teeth (central incisors) usually appear first, followed by the four upper teeth (central and lateral incisors)," says Dr. Lennon.
10. When should parents worry if teeth are not coming in?
Is there a benefit to either early or late teething? Dr. Lennon says there is no benefit to one versus the other. "A baby's first tooth usually appears any time between three to twelve months of age. Some babies may already have their first tooth by three months, while other may not see their first until 12 months." Dr. Lennon adds that whether a baby's teeth come in early or late is usually determined by heredity. So if you and/or your husband had teeth at three months, chances are your baby will, too.
"If [a child] has not had any teeth by 14 months it could be a manifestation of another problem—like ectodermal dysplasia," says Dr. Haller. Ecodermal dysplasia is a hereditary condition characterized by abnormal development of the skin, hair, nails, teeth, and sweat glands. "This has to do with various types of tissues of the ectoderm [or skin]—it can affect the skin and the nervous system so it's best to talk to the doctor and get some X-rays done," he adds.
"Baby teeth are important because they hold the place for permanent teeth and help guide them into correct position," explains Dr. Sherwood. "Severely decayed teeth may need to be extracted which could affect the development of permanent teeth, a child's speech, and chewing."
A consumer poll by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry shows that nearly 70 percent of parents wait until their children are three years old before taking them to the dentist. But, Cynthia E. Sherwood, DDS, and spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry, encourages parents to take children to a dental visit by age one—within six months of the eruption of the first baby tooth. This early visit will cover proper cleaning techniques and include an introductory examination of the teeth and gums. Parents will also learn what drinks kids should avoid, how they can help prevent tooth decay, and other dental care information.