Painful Tooth Eruption: What to do If Your Child’s New Tooth Hurts

Baby teeth are also called primary teeth or deciduous teeth. The process when a child’s baby tooth goes through the gums and becomes visible above the gum line is called tooth eruption.

This process occurs when the child is just a little baby, and it continues through childhood and the teenage years. Each one of us will have two sets of teeth in life: baby teeth and permanent teeth.

A Few Facts About Tooth Eruption in Babies and Kids

  • Typically, girls will experience tooth eruption earlier in life than boys. Every child is different, though.
  • Baby teeth are smaller in size and whiter than the permanent (adult) teeth.
  • By the time a child is 2 to 3 years old, all of the primary teeth should have erupted. Later on in this blog post, we provide 2 lists depicting the approximate ages when baby teeth should erupt, and the approximate ages when adult teeth should erupt.

Signs and Symptoms Associated With the Eruption of Baby Teeth

When your baby starts the phase of tooth eruption, there will be certain signs and symptoms that you’ll notice. The signs and symptoms include:

  • loss of appetite
  • increased saliva production in the mouth (may lead to increased drooling)
  • baby will place objects or fingers in the mouth
  • baby will bite on objects or fingers
  • irritation of the mouth
  • inflamed gums
  • tender gums
  • difficulty eating and chewing
  • minor bleeding when the tooth finally erupts through the gums
  • crankiness or agitation in general
  • interrupted sleep patterns or naptimes
  • redness on the cheek where the tooth is erupting

Those are the typical symptoms and signs associated with baby teeth eruption. If you notice your baby running a fever, vomiting, or having diarrhea, call your doctor as soon as possible. Also, if your child develops an earache or has signs of pain, he or she should be evaluated by your doctor to rule out infection.

When To Expect Baby Teeth to Erupt

We get asked this question quite often: When will my baby’s teeth start to come in? The following list will give you that answer! This list shows when your child’s primary teeth should erupt through the gums. Keep in mind, though, that eruption time differs from child to child.

  • upper and lower central incisors: 6 to 12 months of age (sometimes the upper central incisors erupt after the lowers)
  • upper and lower lateral incisors: 7 to 16 months of age
  • upper and lower cuspids (the canine teeth): 16 to 23 months of age
  • upper and lower first molars: 13 to 19 months of age
  • upper and lower second molars: 20 to 33 months of age

A baby will typically get all of his or her teeth by their third birthday.

As a parent or caregiver, you should notice that your baby is in the teething phase when he or she is approximately 6 months old.

Any time after the child’s third birthday, he or she will start losing their baby teeth, in which case the adult teeth will then begin to erupt.

When to Expect Adult Teeth to Erupt for Kids

Kid’s permanent, adult teeth will begin to erupt around the age of 6. The following list details when adult teeth will erupt for most kids. Just like baby teeth, the eruption time varies from child to child.

  • upper and lower central incisors: 6 to 8 years old
  • upper and lower lateral incisors: 7 to 9 years old
  • upper and lower cuspids (canine teeth): 9 to 12 years old (sometimes it takes longer for the upper cuspids to come in)
  • upper and lower first bicuspids (premolars): 10 to 12 years old
  • upper and lower second biscuspids (premolars): 10 to 12 years old
  • upper and lower first molars: 6 to 7 years old
  • upper and lower second molars: 11 to 13 years old
  • upper and lower third molars (wisdom teeth): 17 to 21 years old

How to Relieve Tooth Eruption Pain

young girl patient with tooth eruption

young girl patient at Smiles 4 Keeps

It is heartbreaking to see your child in pain, regardless of whether the pain is low, mild, or intense. Tooth eruption pain occurs when the new tooth is close in proximity to the gum line and begins to cut through the gum. A child can continue to feel discomfort or pain until the tooth is in the final position in the mouth.

How do you relieve pain associated with erupting teeth?

Here are a few ways:

  • Clean your finger and massage the gum in the area where the tooth will be erupting. This will help to ease the discomfort.
  • Buy and use an anesthetic cream. Orajel™ can be bought in most pharmacies. A topical analgesic, like benzocaine, can also be used.
  • Wet a clean cloth with cold water and let the baby suck and/or chew on it. Do this under adult supervision.
  • Use over-the-counter pain medications (acetaminophen or ibuprofen) formulated for kids. Follow the dosage instructions on the package. Do not use aspirin since kids cannot have it. Before giving any medication to your child, consult with his or her pediatrician or dentist.
  • Buy a teether for your child to bite on. They come in various shapes and sizes, including teething biscuits, rubber-like rings, and cool rings for teething. Do not buy one that is too small so your child does not choke. It is also a good idea to avoid using a teether filled with liquid; sometimes they can leak. Lastly, do not tie a teether around his or her neck since this poses as a strangulation hazard.
  • If your baby is constantly drooling, be sure to wipe the drool away frequently. The longer the drool stays on your baby’s face, the higher the chance he or she will develop a skin rash.

Things You Should NOT Do During the Tooth Eruption Phase

There are a few things you and your child should avoid doing during the tooth eruption phase.

Do NOT be aggressive when caring for the child’s teeth and gums.

Always be gentle when brushing and flossing your child’s teeth. Teach him or her to be gentle, as well.

After your child loses a tooth, a small wound may be apparent. During this stage, do not give your child a harsh rinse that contains alcohol or peroxide. Doing so may increase pain, harm the gums, and/or delay healing.

Also be sure to avoid giving aspirin to kids. Never apply aspirin directly to the gums. It can burn the tissue.

Do NOT prematurely pull the loose tooth or wiggle it aggressively.

You can typically encourage your young son or daughter to push gently on the loose tooth by using his or her tongue or clean finger. The key word here is “gently.”

Do not use this type of encouragement if the tooth isn’t very loose. You do not want to wiggle or pull the tooth out before it is ready. Doing so can cause unnecessary discomfort and pain for your child.

Wiggling or pulling the tooth out prematurely can also run the risk of leaving a tooth fragment behind, which can lead to infection.

If your child has an accident and knocks the tooth out early on, or if the accident promotes a tooth extraction, only a pediatric dentist should make this decision.

Do NOT avoid visiting the pediatric dentist on a regular basis.

As mentioned in previous sections, seek the advice and care from your pediatric dentist if you have any questions or before giving medications to your child.

It is always best to keep regularly scheduled appointments with the dentist. This allows the dentist to keep an eye on any changes and to keep track of tooth growth. The appointments also allow you the opportunity to ask questions face to face.

If your child has not lost any teeth by the time he or she is 8 years old, for instance, this is a good reason to schedule a dentist visit as soon as possible. Late tooth development can occur in some kids, and it should be monitored by a pediatric dentist.

If you notice that adult teeth are erupting behind the baby teeth, schedule an appointment with the dentist. He or she may think it is best to extract the baby tooth, if necessary, or provide suggestions on what to do next.

As always, if you have any questions at all, please call our pediatric dentists.

How to Care for Newly Erupted Teeth

What happens when the tooth erupts and you can see it above the gum line? What is the proper way to take care of newly erupted teeth?

Keep taking care of your teeth. Do not stop brushing and flossing. Just brush lightly in the area where the newly erupted tooth is.

You should also keep taking your child to the pediatric dentist as recommended (once every 6 months unless otherwise recommended).

Need to Schedule a Pediatric Dental Appointment?

If your child is ready for his or her first pediatric dental visit, call Smiles 4 Keeps. Our friendly pediatric dentists provide gentle kid’s dentistry using a variety of dental services.

We have three convenient office locations in Northeast Pennsylvania catering to many areas. Here is the contact information, office hours, and business addresses for each of our office locations:

  • Bartonsville: 3361 Route 611, Bartonsville, PA 18321 – Phone: 570-629-1142;
    Hours: Mon & Fri 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Scranton: 313 Mulberry St., Scranton, PA 18503 – Phone: 570-346-7760;
    Hours: Mon, Tues, Wed 9:00 am – 5:00 pm | Thurs – Fri: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
  • Wilkes-Barre: 900 Schechter Dr, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702 – Phone: 570-822-4181;
    Hours: Mon- Fri 9:00 am – 5:00 pm