Bellingham Dentist

A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Baby Teeth

The Short Journey of Baby Teeth

Parents and young children who want to understand their teeth may find this simple guide an easy first step into the world of dentistry. It will make for easy understanding as to what happens or what to expect as your baby gets older

Firstly, when you look at a child’s mouth with a complete set of teeth, you’ll find 20 in all. You would like to refer to them as baby teeth. In dental parlance, they are called deciduous teeth, meaning they are teeth that will be shed later on. They happen to be the first set, so they are also called primary teeth.

The teeth come in sets of 4s. So from the upper arch first, starting from the front, you have 4 central incisors – two on each side of the midline. These are followed in the same order and position by 4 lateral incisors, 4 cuspids or canines, 4 first molars, and 4 second molars. What you find on the upper arch or upper jaw are the same set of teeth on the lower jaw.

When do teeth come out?

Eruption times vary from child to child. Generally, the first teeth begin to break through the gums at about 6 months. The two lower central incisors are the first. And then the top four front teeth emerge. Other teeth slowly begin to fill in, usually in pairs – one each side of the upper or lower jaw – until all 20 teeth (10 in the upper jaw and 10 in the lower) have come in by the time the child is 2 ½ to 3 years old. You’ll find the complete set of primary teeth in the mouth from the age of 2 ½ to 3 years to 6 to 7 years of age.

You will note that as a general rule of thumb, every 6 months of your baby’s life, approximately 4 teeth will erupt. Lower teeth usually erupt before upper teeth, upper and lower teeth usually erupt in pairs – one on each side of the mouth. Primary teeth are smaller and whiter than the permanent teeth that will follow. And girls generally precede boys in tooth eruption.

After your toddler is past age 4, the jaw and facial bones begin to grow, creating spaces between the primary teeth. This provides the necessary space for the larger permanent teeth to emerge. Between the ages of 6 and 12, a mixture of both primary and permanent teeth are in the mouth.

When do you expect the primary teeth to grow?

That varies again from child to child, but generally, both upper and lower central incisors fall out at 6 – 7 years old, lateral incisors at 7 – 8 years, the cuspids or canines go by 9 or 10 to 12 years of age. The first molar falls out at 9 – 11 and second molar at 10 to 12.

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Counting Baby Teeth in Bellingham

Let’s help you understand and learn more about your baby’s teeth and how you can better take care of their fragile oral health.