What to Expect for the Eruption of Your Child’s Teeth

The eruption of baby teeth (also known as primary teeth) follows a similar patter for most, if not all children.  A full set of primary teeth begins to grow beneath the gums in a baby even before birth. For this reason, as well as others, a healthy diet is important for expectant moms.

The first baby teeth typically erupt between the ages of six months and one year and the first teeth to appear are the bottom front center incisors.  By the age of three years old most children have a “full” set of twenty primary teeth.  The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends parents to take children to the dentist for their first visit, typically just a quick look, sometime with the first year. The dentist and hygienist can help give suggestions on proper brushing, flossing, and dietary needs.

Even though baby teeth will eventually be lost, they facilitate speech production, proper jaw development, good chewing habits, and the proper spacing and alignment of adult teeth. Most children will not lose the last baby tooth until the early teens years. Proper care for primary teeth helps defend against painful tooth decay, premature loss, and malnutrition.

In what order do primary teeth emerge?

As a general rule-of-thumb, the first teeth to appear in a child's mouth are the two central incisors, or front teeth on the lower and upper jaws (6-12 months).  These can be cleaned gently with a soft, clean cloth or a soft toothbrush designed for toddlers.  These lower front teeth will also be the first a child loses at about age 6.

Next, the lateral incisors (immediately adjacent to the central incisors) erupt on the upper and lower jaws (9-16 months).  These teeth are the second to be lost between the ages of 7 and 8.  First molars, the large flat teeth towards the rear of the mouth, then emerge on the upper and lower jaws (13-19 months).  Tooth eruption (teething) can be painful for children, especially babies.  Clean fingers, cool gauzes, and teething rings are all useful in soothing discomfort and soreness. 

Eyeteeth (also known as cuspids or canines) then erupt on the upper and lower jaws (16-24 months).  Canine teeth can be found next to the lateral incisors and are lost 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 and are lost between the ages of 10 and 12 years old.

What else is known about primary teeth?

Lower primary teeth usually erupt before the corresponding upper teeth for most children.

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 adult teeth and in most cases, are whiter in color as compared to the adult teeth that replace them.

For most children, losing a tooth is exciting, especially if it is associated with a visit from the tooth fairy!

If you have questions or concerns about primary teeth, please contact our Scottsdale office.


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