Before we discuss causes of late teething we must define what is meant by the term. The average infant will bring forth its first tooth between the ages of five months to seven months, and most children will have done so by about thirteen months.
Identifying Late Teething
Usually, all children have started teething by about eighteen months. So what is considered ‘late’? It all depends. The point could be any time after thirteen months, when ‘most children’ are expected to begin teething. This is the time when parents may start thinking of possible reasons for delay. It is important to remember that every child is different. Genetics affect all aspects of human life. Some families will have their teeth later than these ages, and some may even start teething at three months. Others may drool early, but teethe many months later. Teething discomfort varies as well, some children will have teeth erupt without discomfort, while other go through phases of much pain and fussiness.
If both of the parents began teething at the age of around fifteen months, then it would be normal to expect that their baby will teeth around that age, and may be even later. If both parents had been early teethers then we should expect the baby to bring its first pair of teeth rather early, and a ‘delay’ should be noted. Also keep in mind that there will be variation even among siblings. This is because the parents will contribute a different set of genes.
Other than genetics, there are typically two types of causes for ‘delay’ . It could be a nutritional deficiency or a medical condition. Nutritional deficiency will normally be indicated by an under-weight condition, or a weak physique. In such cases, children must be supplemented by formula milk. It is important that children in need of formula get milk rich in vitamins, especially vitamins A, C, and D. Minerals, calcium and phosphorus are also necessary. It is to be noted that nutritional deficiency, in some essentials, may also result if the feeding mother is weak or sick, or is not getting enough nutrition herself. Medical conditions may delay the arrival of teeth. Hypothyroidism is one cause. In such cases, the thyroid gland is not functioning well enough. Hypothyroidism will generally be accompanied by other indications, like slow growth, sluggish responses, lack of physical alertness, weight gain and slower learning of skills like walking and speech. Another medical condition could be weakness due to formula milk being unacceptable to the intestine of the child. It is said that low birth weight and anemia may also cause delayed teething.
If you suspect that your baby is taking too long to cut their first tooth, you should visit the dentist, who can then try to determine whether it is actually delayed, or it is simply natural.