This factsheet is a guide to what to expect when a child is teething. It is one of a collection developed for the Happy Teeth program.

Baby teeth

Healthy teeth allow a toddler to:

  • eat a nutritious diet
  • speak properly and
  • have a healthy smile

Baby teeth also help maintain the space for the permanent teeth. Early loss of a baby tooth can reduce the space for the permanent tooth, resulting in crowded permanent teeth. The timing of the appearance of baby teeth can vary greatly. This diagram is a general quide to when the baby teeth should appear in the mouth.

Teething problems

Some babies and toddlers may experience teething problems such as

  • red swollen gums
  • irritability and restlessness
  • flushed cheeks or fever
  • dribbling
  • finger and fist sucking.

Any teething problems should only be temporary. If pain persists and causes sleeplessness ask your pharmacist, GP or child health nurse or dental professional for advice. Mild teething problems may be eased by letting the baby chew on objects such as:

  • crusts of bread
  • rusks
  • a teething ring.

Rubbing your child's gums with your finger, or applying a small amount of teething gel may also help to ease teething pain. Toothbrushing should start as soon as the first tooth appears.  For advice on toothbrushes, toothpaste and toothbrushing, refer to the 'Brushing your toddler's teeth' fact sheet.


  • Teething should not cause severe illness.
  • If the child has a fever or diarrhoea, see your doctor.
  • A low fluoride toothpaste is recommended for children under 6 years of age.


Adapted from Teething, Health Department of Western Australia. August 1995.