Developmental Stages of Baby Teeth

Written by mary jo megginson
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Developmental Stages of Baby Teeth
Babies normally have 20 teeth by the age of three. (Arthur Tilley/Creatas/Getty Images)

A baby's first year is marked by numerous milestones. The gummy smiles of the first months are quickly replaced by toothy grins as a baby's tiny new teeth start to emerge. Every baby is different, but there is a general pattern in tooth development that is seen in the majority of babies.

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Generally, a baby's teeth erupt from the front of the mouth to the back, and lower teeth usually emerge before upper teeth. Girls often get their teeth a little earlier than boys. Teeth normally emerge in pairs, and most children will have got all 20 of their primary teeth sometime between the ages of two and three.

Tooth Eruption

A baby's first teeth normally start to emerge at around 6 months of age. In most babies, the first teeth will be the bottom central incisors, followed by the top front four teeth between 8 and 13 months and the bottom lateral incisors between 10 and 16 months. Molars are usually next to appear, sometime between 13 and 19 months, followed by the canines beginning around 16 months. The final teeth to erupt are often termed "two-year molars" because they tend to emerge around the age of two.

Primary Tooth Loss

Once your baby has all 20 primary teeth, he will have the full set for about three to four years. Around age four, the jaw and facial bones begin to grow, creating gaps between the primary teeth to make room for the arrival of the permanent teeth. Your child will lose his first tooth around age six or seven, and the baby teeth are lost in generally the same order in which they arrived.

Tooth Care

As soon as your baby gets his first tooth, you should get into the habit of cleaning them. At first a wet washcloth or a finger brush will work well, but eventually you'll want to get your little one her own toothbrush. The American Dental Association recommends that your baby visit the dentist within six months of getting her first tooth and no later than her first birthday.

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