Teething - Better Lives Healthy Futures


Age group:
Your baby’s teeth begin to come through at around the age of six months, but from three months onwards you will notice signs of teething
Photograph of a child's mouth ahead of teething

When your baby starts to teethe, you will see signs like red cheeks and sore red gums, and your baby may put their hands or other objects into their mouth, or dribble more than usual.

Teething symptoms are generally mild and localised. They include pain, increased biting, drooling, gum-rubbing, sucking, irritability, ear-rubbing, facial rash, decreased appetite, disturbed sleep, and (possibly) mild temperature.

How you can help

To help your baby with their teething, try gently massaging their gums with a clean finger. A teething ring can be soothing too.

Teething rings give your baby something to chew safely. This may ease their discomfort and distract them from any pain. Some teething rings can be cooled first in the fridge, which may help to soothe your baby’s gums. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Never put a teething ring in the freezer or around a baby’s neck.

Allowing your child to bite on a clean cold wet flannel may also help. If your baby is six months or older, try giving them chilled fruit or vegetables such as bananas, cucumber, and melon – always under supervision to avoid the risk of choking. Avoid rusks as nearly all brands contain some sugar. Sugar free products are preferred as they do not promote tooth decay.

If your baby dribbles excessively it can lead to their chin, neck and chest becoming chapped or sore. Dribble bibs can be used to stop your baby’s clothes getting wet and can be used to dab the chin/mouth area to stop them staying wet. Change any wet clothing and apply a simple barrier cream to keep the skin soft and smooth.

Gels and solutions can be used to manage teething, but generally are unsupported by clinical evidence, so the methods above are recommended first. If you do decide to use a teething gel, make sure it is one which has been specially designed for young children. General oral pain relief gels are not suitable for children. Teething gels contain a mild local anaesthetic and are only available from pharmacies. There is no evidence that homeopathic teething gels are effective. If you use a homeopathic gel, make sure it is licensed in the UK. Some unlicensed homeopathic gels advertised on the internet have serious side effects.

It is important to remember that if a baby seems unusually listless and unhappy it may not be simple teething troubles. If they have for example, a high fever, this may indicate an underlying condition unrelated to teething and should be checked out with your GP – always contact your GP if you are unsure

blue-bird green-bird orange-bird pink-bird

Further information

Growing up with healthy teeth

This video from Henry.org looks at what we can do to help our children grow up with healthy teeth.

Guide to children’s teeth

This downloadable leaflet from the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry brings together all the basic advice and information you might need about children’s oral health.

Looking after children’s teeth

This downloadable leaflet from the Institute of Health Visiting offers detailed information and tips for parents.

Oral health for babies: birth to three years old

Childsmile (from NHS Scotland) provides a range of oral health advice accessed via their website.

Sweets, fizzy drinks and bottles

The NHS website has important information on establishing good habits to avoid tooth decay and gum disease.

Healthier drinks for kids

The NHS Change4Life website has simple tips and easy drink swaps to help you cut the amount of sugar children receive in drinks.

Fun first foods

An easy guide from Childsmile (NHS Scotland) to introducing solid foods.

Related topics

Baby’s first teeth

It's important to take care of your baby's teeth as soon as they appear
Age group:

Brushing teeth

Regular brushing will help your child to avoid tooth decay
Age group:

Reducing tooth decay

Sugary food and drinks can cause tooth decay and pain, impacting on your child's health and wellbeing
Age group:

Introducing solid foods (weaning)

You can begin to give your baby food and drinks, other than milk, from six months old.
Age group:

Visiting the dentist

NHS dental treatment for children is free for children under 18
Age group:

Oral Health service

Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust's Oral Health team offers a range of programmes including fluoride varnish applications and a toothbrushing programme delivered in primary and special schools.
Age group:

Nutrition and exercise

There’s lots of information about nutrition and exercise for adults or children
Age group:

Infant feeding

Feeding your baby in the right way for you both can help get your baby get off to the best start in life.
Age group:

Bottle feeding

If you choose to bottle feed you may still want to give the first few feeds of colostrum (first milk) before going on to bottle feeding.
Age group:


There are many benefits to breastfeeding for both you and your baby and in the first few days you and your baby will still be getting to know each other.
Age group: