Nothing quite lights up a room like a baby’s smile, but that precious, gummy grin could soon be followed by rough days ahead once a tots teeth start coming in. By knowing what symptoms to look for and the smartest remedies to provide relief, you can help ease the pain of teething and bring the smiles back.

It’s all about the mouth

well before most babies cut their first tooth, a marked increase in drooling and putting things in their mouth usually occurs around the second month. This extra saliva generally signals that your childs salivary glands are preparing for an upcoming diet of solid foods.

On average, the first teeth don’t start breaking through until around 6 to 10 months, although it’s not uncommon for many babies to not even see teeth by their first birthday. While some children aren’t affected by teething, for many its a miserable, uncomfortable experience. Crying and irritability, excessive drooling, inflamed gums and even a mild fever are some of the more common symptoms that can affect a baby’s sleeping and eating habits and alter their entire temperament.

Remedies and relief

Most babies will seek comfort by putting anything within reach in their mouth, supplying the pressure that can soothe their aching gums. You can help out by giving your child something to chew on, such as a cold, damp washcloth or firm rubber teething toy that has been chilled in the refrigerator, or by gently massaging their gums with your finger. Your doctor may also suggest supplementing these natural remedies with over-the-counter medications to relieve the pain, including acetaminophen, ibuprofen (for children over 6 months) or topical numbing gels.

Avoid teething remedies that include benzocaine, as the FDA reports that it can cause methemoglobinemia, which reduces the amount of oxygen in our blood and in some rare cases can cause death, particularly in children less than two years old. Always consult with a physician on dosages relative to your baby’s weight before deciding to use teething tablets and gels.

Once you find the right remedy, your baby will be on a more comfortable road to a beautiful, toothy smile.

Late arrivals

It’s easy to get into the habit of worrying if your baby’s development doesn’t proceed along a standard timetable. Teething is an area that can catch a parents attention, but if your baby’s a bit behind in cutting teeth, the reasons can be simple and treatable. Some things to remember:

  • Its genetic: Parents whose teeth came in late may have children with delayed teething.
  • Be aware that poor nutrition or hypothyroidism can cause late teething, among other issues.
  • If no teeth appear by your baby’s first birthday, consult your pediatrician for peace of mind and to address any medical concerns.

Jennifer Shu, M.D., is a board-certified pediatrician, author and mother based in Atlanta, Ga. A frequent guest as a medical expert on national and local television and radio shows, she also serves as the medical editor-inchief for the American Academy of Pediatrics consumer website,