The eruption of primary teeth (also known as deciduous or baby teeth) follows a similar developmental timeline for most children. A full set of primary teeth begins to grow beneath the gums during the fourth month of pregnancy. For this reason, a nourishing prenatal diet is of paramount importance to the infant’s teeth, gums, and bones.
Generally, the first primary tooth breaks through the gums between the ages of 6 months and 1 year. By the age of 3 years old, most children have a “full” set of 20 primary teeth. The American Dental Association (ADA) encourages parents to make a “well-baby” appointment with a pediatric dentist approximately 6 months after the first tooth emerges. Pediatric dentists communicate with parents and children about prevention strategies. They also emphasize the importance of a sound, “no-tears” daily home care plan.
Primary teeth are deciduous. However, they facilitate speech production, proper jaw development, good chewing habits, and the proper spacing and alignment of adult teeth. Caring properly for primary teeth helps defend against painful tooth decay, premature tooth loss, malnutrition, and childhood periodontal disease.
In What Order Do Primary Teeth Emerge?
Generally, the first teeth to emerge are the central incisors (very front teeth) on the lower and upper jaws (6-12 months). These (and any other primary teeth) can be cleaned gently with a soft, clean cloth to reduce the risk of bacterial infection. The central incisors are the first teeth to be lost, usually between 6 and 7 years of age.
Next, the lateral incisors (immediately adjacent to the central incisors) emerge on the upper and lower jaws (9-16 months). Children lose these teeth next, usually between 7 and 8 years of age.
First molars, the large flat teeth toward the rear of the mouth, then emerge on the upper and lower jaws (13-19 months). The eruption of molars can be painful. Clean fingers, cool gauzes, and teething rings are all useful in soothing discomfort and soreness. Generally, children lose first molars between 9 and 11 years of age.
Canine (cuspid) teeth then tend to emerge on the upper and lower jaws (16-23 months). Canine teeth can be found next to the lateral incisors. Children lose them during preadolescence (10-12 years old).
Finally, second molars complete the primary set on the lower and upper jaw (23-33 months). Second molars can be found at the very back of the mouth. Children lose them between the ages of 10 and 12 years old.
What Else Is Known About Primary Teeth?
Although each child is unique, baby girls generally have a head start on baby boys when it comes to primary tooth eruption. Lower teeth usually erupt before opposing upper teeth in both sexes.
Teeth usually erupt in pairs – meaning that there may be months with no new activity and months where two or more teeth emerge at once. Due to smaller jaw size, primary teeth are smaller than permanent teeth and appear to have a whiter tone.
An interesting mixture of primary and permanent teeth is the norm for most school-age children.
Schedule a “Well Baby” Check-up with a Dentist in Scarborough
Your child’s baby teeth play a big role in development. Schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist in Scarborough to make sure your child’s teeth are on the right track.
The dentist in Scarborough will also go over proper oral care for your child to follow while at home. Your dentist will partner with you to ensure your baby has healthy teeth.
If you have questions or concerns about primary teeth, please contact our office.