Baby Teeth - A Guide To Its Order And Appearance

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The first two pearly whites emerging from your little one’s lower jaw are probably the cutest things! The baby finally begins the journey to having a mouthful of teeth.

Teeth play an essential role in a lot of developmental activities, especially switching to solid foods. It would be wise to know their order of appearance and the functions they perform. This would help you understand any physical, developmental delay if any. In this post, MomJunction brings you the complete order of appearance of teeth from infancy to toddlerhood, so that you can track your baby’s teeth growth.

Baby Teeth And Their Role:

Baby teeth are also known as deciduous or milk teeth. These are primary teeth that act as a placeholder for the permanent teeth, which are lodged in the skull. Primary teeth play the following roles:

  • Help in adapting to solid foods (1). Mouth is the first section of the alimentary canal, where the food is ingested. These teeth help in chewing and mincing the food to smaller bits, making it easier for digestion.
  • Teeth can modulate the air flowing out of the mouth thus influencing the pronunciation of words and aiding speech development (2).
  • Teeth give the jaw a fuller look and also a proper shape, thereby maintaining a normal facial appearance.
  • A smile is an important social gesture even for babies, and primary teeth help complete that in the most adorable way!

Teeth are thus an essential part of a baby’s body. But did you know that there are different types of primary teeth? Read on to know more. .

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Types Of Primary Teeth:

  1. Central incisors
  2. Lateral incisors
  3. First molars
  4. Canines
  5. Second molars

A toddler will have 20 primary teeth, with ten on each jaw, by the age of three years (3). Each tooth type has four teeth – a pair each on upper and lower jaw. The teething schedule varies for each tooth group.

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Primary Teeth’s Order Of Appearance

The baby’s first teeth will emerge between six and ten months (4). Teeth appear in pairs, which means that two teeth erupt at a time on either upper or lower jaw. Below is the age range when the teeth erupt and are then lost. Also, we give the average age when the baby is most likely to erupt and shed teeth.

1. Lower central incisors:

These are the two front teeth on the lower jaw that you often notice in smiling babies. Incisors (both central and lateral) help at tugging and biting food (5).

  • Age of eruption: 6-10 months. Average age – 7.8 months
  • Age of shedding: 6-7 years. Average age – 6 years

2. Upper central incisors:

The upper central incisors along with their lower jaw counterparts give the baby an improved biting ability.

  • Age of eruption: 8-12 months. Average age – 9.6 months
  • Age of shedding: 6-7 years. Average age – 7 years

3. Lower lateral incisors:

The lateral incisors flank the central incisors and help improve the bite force.

  • Age of eruption: 10-16 months. Average age – 11.5 months
  • Age of shedding: 7-8 years. Average age – 7 years

4. Upper lateral incisors:

The emergence of upper lateral incisors completes the incisor group.

  • Age of eruption: 9-13 months. Average age – 12.4 months
  • Age of shedding: 7-8 years. Average age – 8 years

5. Lower first molars:

First molars are bigger teeth that lie towards the rear of the mouth. They have a flatter crown and are ideal for chewing and grinding food.

  • Age of eruption: 14-18 months. Average age – 15.1 months
  • Age of shedding: 9-11 years. Average age – 10 years

6. Upper first molars:

The upper first molars lie right opposite the lower jaw versions. In a closed jaw, the lower first molars interlock with the upper first molars to prevent them from grinding against one another.

  • Age of eruption: 13-19 months. Average age – 15.7 months
  • Age of shedding: 9-11 years. Average age – 10 years

7. Lower canines:

Canines, also called cuspids, lie right between the incisor group and the molars. These teeth are popularly associated with carnivores since they are used for shredding and tearing meat from the bone. They are the longest and sharpest teeth in the mouth.

  • Age of eruption: 17-23 months. Average age – 18.2 months
  • Age of shedding: 9-12 years. Average age – 9.5 years

8. Upper canines:

Upper canines, together with the lower ones, help in ripping and tearing food.

  • Age of eruption: 16-22 months. Average age – 18.3 months
  • Age of shedding: 10-12 years. Average age – 11 years

9. Lower second molars:

Second molars are anatomically similar to first molars but are larger with a wider crown area. These heavy duty teeth grind food to bits with their sheer size. They are at the rear of the mouth and have an excellent muscle leverage to chew food with maximum force.

  • Age of eruption: 23-31 months. Average age – 26 months
  • Age of shedding: 10-12 years. Average age – 11 years

10. Upper second molars:

These are the last set of primary teeth to emerge in the toddler’s mouth.

  • Age of eruption: 25-33 months. Average age – 26.2 months
  • Age of shedding: 10-12 years. Average age – 10.5 years

With the emergence of upper second molars, the toddler’s primary teeth eruption is complete. The permanent premolars replace the first and second primary molars. After this, the permanent first, second, and third molar erupt. The third molar is called the wisdom tooth and is the last set of teeth to develop.

The eruption of teeth on lower and upper jaw can coincide, and so do the time of their loss. Also, babies can have different teething schedules, and there is no need to panic if the eruption is slower. Irrespective of the teething timeline, the infant will have all primary teeth by the 36 months or three years. There could still be instances when the baby faces issues in tooth eruption.

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What If Teeth Do Not Erupt In A Defined Order?

The following are the two primary reasons why the baby’s teeth could erupt in an improper manner.

  • Even primary teeth are susceptible to decay called dental caries. Babies who sleep with cow milk or formula bottles in their mouth are most prone to tooth cavities, also called nursing bottle caries (6). It causes abnormal loss of primary teeth and may result in the rest emerging in an improper order. Even breastfed infants who sleep latched to a breast and with unswallowed milk in their mouth can develop cavities. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the mother remove the baby from latching after he has fallen asleep (7). Primary tooth infections could cause the permanent teeth to emerge stained and have weaker roots.
  • There could be cases when the infant has a congenital condition, which prevents the sprouting of primary teeth. For example, in a genetic disorder called hypodontia, a baby does not develop a few teeth, leading to empty spaces in the mouth (8). In rare cases, such as anodontia, the baby may not erupt any teeth at all due to genetic disorders (9). The problems with primary teeth can impact the health of permanent teeth. If the baby loses a primary tooth abnormally, such as from an injury, then the permanent tooth may emerge late or not emerge at all. In such cases, a dentist would suggest the next best course of action (10).

Remember, if something looks amiss in the baby’s primary teeth development, then take him to a dentist right away. Some conditions such as congenital teeth disorders can only be diagnosed through medical analysis. As a parent, you need to inspect your baby’s teeth periodically to check for any visible decay or developmental problem.

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Care For Primary Teeth:

Below are some tips on taking care of your little one’s primary teeth.

  • Brush teeth when they first emerge. The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your baby’s teeth right from their emergence (11). It ensures that there is no buildup of bacteria that can harm the eruption of other teeth.
  • Use smear size toothpaste. Toothbrush for babies have softer bristles. When brushing, use just a touch of paste about the size of the grain of rice, and brush the teeth and gums very gently twice a day.
  • Supervise toddler’s brushing. You can train older toddlers to brush their teeth by themselves. However, stay by their side and keep a watch just in case they get it wrong.
  • Stay clear of sugary drinks. Ensure that your toddler stays away from high sugar content foods such as sodas, sweets, etc.. These foods significantly increase the risk of tooth decay and premature tooth loss. The American Dental Association recommends against giving soda to even older preschoolers due to their potential risk of causing tooth decay (12). Juices are not very good either as they have been linked to dental cavities. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no fruit juice for infants below one year (13).

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Watching what the baby eats helps to ensure healthy teeth development. Careful brushing, and proper oral hygiene, with regular visits to the dentist, is all the little one needs to have a lifetime of a beautiful and radiant smile.

How long did it take for your baby’s teeth to erupt? Tell us in the comments section below.