What is teething?

Teething refers to the process during which primary (baby) teeth emerge through an infant or child's gums. 

Interestingly, dental development begins in a foetus roughly around the 6th week in utero when tooth buds form in the gums, and the process continues after birth and well into adolescence. All through this continued cycle of advancement, the development of the pearly whites is susceptible to hereditary and environmental factors. The artistic technique linked to items such as timing of eruption, tooth position, and the arrangement of teeth is determined by thousands of chromosomes (these are cells containing genetic data) that make up the child’s unique DNA.

The primary teeth which initially appear in infants, generally referred to as ‘milk teeth’, are already assembled underneath the gums before a baby is even born. There is no set age at which a child will begin to teethe and the exact timing differs from child to child.  Generally, the initial set of teeth will begin to protrude through the gums when the infant is approximately 6 to 9 months of age (1),  and a full set of 20 ‘baby’ or temporary teeth should have fully developed by the age of 3.

In this article we will explore dental anatomy so that you understand the structure of teeth, the various aspects of what teething entails, examine how it effects children and parents and discuss how you, as a parent, can handle this process in the best possible way.


(1) The Pharmaceutical Journal. 17 June 2015. Available at https://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/learning/learning-article/tooth-eruption-and-teething-in-children/20069598.article Accessed [26 April 2018]

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