Pros & Cons of Late Teething

Myla Rae's very first tooth started cutting through her gums recently, at 13 months old. Although I know there are babies who only started teething at like 14 or 16months, etc. I would consider Myla Rae a late teether. Afterall, at this point where she has one tooth, most similar aged babies have between 4 to 10 teeth in their mouth.
Me being an extreme worrier, haha, did ask her neonatal PD at KKH about it (yes she still sees the neonatal one which saw her at birth, she will only be discharged from their care once she's 2yrs old, no health issues it's just standard procedure for those born early). And the doctor wasn't concerned, she just said, it could take up to 15 months for some babies. If she doesn't have teeth by 16 to 18 months then we will run tests and xrays to see if there are teeth (under the gums).

16 months??!!! OMG I have to worry for so many months more (this was when she was 10 months old). What if she didn't develop any teeth under her gums?!!! Then What?! They don't want to Xray babies unnecessarily, and almost all of the time, there's actually nothing wrong and the teeth are there under the gums. Just waiting to cut through.

There's no explanation for why some babies' teeth cut through the gums later, and some much earlier. It actually has no link to anything. In my preemie group of mummies, most of their babies cut teeth at the regular time (between 6-12months), and in my December group of mummies on Facebook I did ask if those babies still with no teeth were born prematurely? And there were about 5 babies (including Myla) there still no teeth at 1year old (all the rest of the hundreds of babies already had teeth by this point). 2 were regular full term babies (37 to 40weeks), 1 was a micro preemie (micro is when they are born VERY prematurely, like before 30 weeks I think), 1 is Myla a 35 weeker and 1 is a late term baby born at 41 weeks who is many kilos heavier than Myla Rae now and was already walking.

So it was quite obvious that the baby's gestational age when born, milestones reached and the baby's current size also had no relation to late teething. Actually, all babies are born with the teeth formed under their gums already. (But some babies are born with the teeth already poking out of their gums). But I can tell you one thing, if your baby has no teeth by the first birthday, you will feel quite lonely... because by then, the majority of babies would have started teething.

However, now that we are past that, and Myla Rae finally started teething at 13months... I want to tell you mums with toothless babies... NOT TO WORRY. A baby's teething timeline is determined by it's own genetic biological clock. Only very rarely, late teething is caused by a medical issue. Bahahaa yes hindsight is 20/20.

Here are the Pros and Cons to having teeth later rather than earlier. I'll do the Cons first, because there are actually many more Pros to this.

1. You start to worry. I think this is the biggest con of having a late teether (for first time mothers at least. The second time round, you actually know there's no need to worry, and the later the better!). Plus uninformed people might look at your baby's gummy smile and suggest that the baby is behind in development, or that the baby is not getting enough nutrition.  -_-

2. People with babies with teeth think they are better than yours. lol. I'm serious! Not sure why, but I feel that other mums with babies who teeth early flaunt and phrase it in a way like their babies are more advanced than yours. Maybe it's just my perception. But I do get that feeling.... like recently (before myla teethed) a grandmother told me in a very smug and boastful manner than her 5 week old grandchild is already teething and she even added in the phrase "no word of lie". Huh... why would I even bother to think that you are lying about a baby teething. Bizarre.

3. It does limit food options. Not by a lot... but I do imagine that Myla Rae would be able to chew and bite off tougher and bigger pieces of food if she had teeth earlier. She does find with her gums though, and enjoys meal times. But She cannot for instance, take a bite off an apple using her gums only. Can u imagine trying to bite into an apple with only your gums and no teeth? We also tried recently- corn on the cob- since she had one partially erupted tooth I thought maybe she can, but she could only suck it and gum it, not really bite the kernels off. Oh well, will try again when she has some top teeth to help form a bite. For now, I am back to pulling off the kernels for her and she will pick up one by one.

1. They handle teething better when they are older. That is what I have found. Never used a teething gel or pacifier or cold chew. The tooth just cut through one day. She wasn't cranky, there were no signs. I just saw the tooth almost surfacing one day when she was eating and I happened to glimpse into her mouth. And the next day, it had pierced through the gum. She has had like pimple looking rash on her chin around her mouth for a couple of weeks before the tooth appeared. I think that it's her sign of teething. Though she's not drooling... no idea why the rash.

2. Less chance of decay. I can brush her tooth easily, and she is keen on trying to maneuver the toothbrush herself too. When she was a young infant and I tried to clean her gums, OMG, impossibiru! Hard to get my finger (which had a wet cotton gauze) into her mouth, let alone move it around. Also because at this age, babies are more likely to be able to sleep through the night and not have milk feeds. I just clean her tooth before bed time, and that's it. Nursing a baby through the night when they already have teeth is the main cause of milk rot and bad teeth. There are mummies in my mummies FB group already asking for recommendations for pediatric dentists because their 1 year olds have decay, or worn off and blackish/brownish front teeth.

3. It is likely she will get her permanent adult teeth late too. (I got my first adult tooth late, was embarrassed being in primary 5 and missing my 2 front teeth, when my classmates lost theirs at primary 3!) Again, the later the better because less chance for decay, and more chance of having the adult teeth longer. It's the first in first out logic.

4. Gummy smiles are awfully cute... and they do give your baby that BABY look for longer. (Though that mum with the large 41weeker baby, said that her baby looked strange without any teeth, because he was so big sized)

5. Late teething is supposed to give healthier and stronger teeth, as it's had more time for the calcium to build up etc. I don't know about this though... because the teeth are already made and formed under the gum when the baby is born... so I don't see how it erupting later is going to make its composition any different from a teeth which erupted earlier.. since they were all formed while the baby is developing in the womb? Who knows. if it's true, then great! :)

6. Less risky knocks. Now that Myla Rae has her first tooth, I find myself thinking aiyahhhh wish it were later by a couple more months (cos like I'm no longer worried that she doesn't have teeth lol). She's learning to walk now, which means she falls a lot. Scary when there's teeth. But I suppose it would be even riskier if she already had 2 full rows of top and bottom teeth. So I count our blessings. My friend's baby who is an early teether, (well, actually, not ridiculously early, 6 months old is pretty normal range I think), when he started to learn how to crawl at 8-9months, he smacked his face down on the floor (tiled), and the impact knocked his top front tooth out. OMG, I feel his pain. And now she's worried that missing that front tooth, he will have problems with speech development, and also get teased in school when older. I think the only consolation here is, he will probably get his adult teeth early too, is that around 7years old for early ones? But still... OMG, poor child.

So yes, if you have a late teether... don't worry! Don't be like me, everything also I find a reason to fret. Just enjoy your baby, and the innocent little gummy smile. Once they have teeth, yeah still cute-in their own way, but 2 rows of teeth and that "baby-ness" is no longer there  :(   . If at 16-18 months there's still no teeth, then consult a pediatric dentist. They can check the Thyroid, cos apparently it can cause the teeth not to erupt. Once that is fixed, the child will start teething as per normal ( I tink, this is based on what Dr Google told me). If nothing wrong with the blood tests, they will Xray, maybe some bone or the teeth arrangement under the gums is causing obstruction (in which case, minor surgery to clear the path)... absolute worst case, is the Xray shows that no teeth were formed under the gums. I'm not sure what happens if that's the case, when I Googled to read up (before myla started teething, told you I'm a worrier), there was not much said on this... because it's VERY VERY VERY rare.

Late teething doesn't signal a problem with a child's overall development. It has no bearing whether your child will get into Harvard or what. And actually, there are many upsides to being a later bloomer in this aspect. So don't need to be gan cheong spider like me.