Teething begins when your baby’s primary teeth start to break through the gums. On average, you should expect your baby to begin teething when he is about 6 months old.

If this isn’t the case with your child, don’t be concerned too early. Children’s health providers are used to seeing babies as young as 3 months old beginning the teething process. On the other end of the spectrum, it isn’t abnormal for teething to begin near a child’s first birthday.

However, experts recommend speaking to a pediatric primary care provider or a pediatric dentist if your child is 12 months of age or older and has yet to begin teething. Pediatric dentists or seasoned primary care providers can help parents discover why their child may be late teething.

By your child’s third birthday, he will most likely have all 20 primary teeth and be finished with the teething process.

Calming Teething Fears

For many parents — especially those raising their first child — the prospect of entering the teething period can be daunting. While it is a natural part of the maturation process, some mothers and fathers worry about being able to adequately soothe their child.

“Parents come in to our practice all the time asking questions about teething,” says Cayci D. Cathey, CPNP, pediatric nurse practitioner with Pediatric Consultants in Knoxville, Tenn. “Because it’s a milestone in a child’s growth, parents always want to know what’s normal, what isn’t and when and how they can expect teeth to come in.”

When the Baby Teeth Come In

The first teeth most parents notice are the lower front teeth, followed within a few months by the upper front teeth. In general, the teeth will continue to come in steadily for the next year or longer. Generally, the last teeth parents notice breaking through the surface are the second molars, which are located on both the top and the bottom of the mouth.

Teething often happens in pairs, meaning the opposite teeth on both the top and bottom begin to break through the surface at the same time.

Here’s a quick overview of common ages when baby teeth appear:

  • The central incisors — more commonly known as the upper teeth — usually appear when babies are between 6 months and 12 months of age.
  • The lateral incisors — the teeth that are next to the central incisors on either side — generally break through between 9 and 16 months of age.
  • The canine teeth, also known as cuspids, are next — both in the placement in the mouth and appearance. They appear between 16 and 23 months of age.
  • As children continue teething, the first molars will likely appear between 14 and 19 months of age.
  • Finally, the second molars, which complete the teething process, come in, on average, before a child is 33 months old.

Late Teething

When a child is more than 18 months old and still hasn’t gone through the teething process, she may be a late teether. Some experts also call this “delayed eruption.”

For some babies, late teething is simply a matter of genetics — in other words, they may be late bloomers. However, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and touch base with a medical professional if your child isn’t teething at the same time as her peers.

A Temporary Discomfort

For many parents, knowing that the teething stage is only temporary is a relief. While it can cause pain and discomfort for babies, many remedies that can be administered at home exist to soothe babies and help guide them through the process.

Whether your trusted medical professional recommends using a cool teething ring, properly administered teething gels or simply massaging the gums, parents can do small things to make the teething process easier and allow their baby or toddler to get back to the business of growing up.