Your baby’s first tooth likely won’t make an appearance until his third or fourth month of life. Eruption of teeth before then is considered early teething. If your baby is not teething by the time he’s 13 months, then he is experiencing late teething. In most cases, delayed teething is nothing to worry about. While late teething can be caused by a number of factors, often there is no identifiable cause, and the child may take up to 18 months to grow his first tooth.
Late teething is known to be hereditary. Often, it runs in the family, and you should know that your baby has a genetic predisposition to delay teething unless he is your first child. Delayed teething can be inherited from either side of the family; therefore, if either parent started teething late as a baby, then it is expected their child could experience delayed teething. If you don’t remember, you can ask your parents or in-laws.
Poor nutrition can also cause late teething. In this case, delayed teething will only be one of many signs of malnourishment in the baby. Babies who are experiencing late teething due to poor nutrition are weaker, smaller and underweight. This can happen from inadequate breastfeeding and low supplementation from infant formula. Babies need vitamin A, C and D as well as calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin or mineral deficiency, especially vitamin D and calcium, can lead to late teething.
Hypothyroidism and Teething
Delayed teething can also result from hypothyroidism. Babies with underactive thyroid gland present with a number of developmental problems. Signs of hypothyroidism include fatigue, weakness, headaches and stiffness in the joints. Especially in babies, hypothyroidism can present as delayed walking, delayed talking, overweight and late teething.
When to Visit Your Doctor
If your 13-month-old baby still has not produced his first teeth and you have confirmed that delayed teething doesn’t run in the family, it is time to see his pediatrician. The pediatrician can determine if the teething problem is due to poor nutrition, hypothyroidism or some other cause. You will get a referral to a pediatric dentist if your baby still has a toothless grin when he is 18 months old.
By Sheila Smitt