Children’s teeth begin developing even before they are born. Although your baby’s teeth might not be visible at birth, they are present beneath the gums having started to form around the sixth week of pregnancy. After a child is born, the teeth go through many more stages, eventually transitioning from a full set or primary teeth to a permanent set of adult teeth. Recognizing tooth development in children can help ensure that your little one’s smile is progressing as it should.
Child Teeth Development in the First Years
Although you can’t see them at birth, babies are born with 20 teeth. These are known as the primary teeth. They typically include four central incisors, four lateral incisors, four canine teeth, four first molars, and four second molars. The first teeth begin to erupt around six months of age.
When the teeth come through the gums, it can cause some discomfort for the baby. The eruption of the teeth from the gum line is known as teething. Teething can be tough on little ones but there are ways to soothe your baby’s pain. Try gentle gum massage, a chilled teething ring, or a pain-relieving medication prescribed by your doctor.
By the time a child is two to three years old, he or she should have all of their primary teeth. However, each child is different so don’t be concerned if your baby’s teeth appear a little earlier or later. Lower teeth usually appear sooner than top teeth and girls’ teeth often erupt slightly earlier than boys’ teeth.
Loss of Primary Teeth
Children will generally lose all of their primary teeth between the ages of six and 11 years old. The first tooth to fall out is usually located in the lower jaw. The loss of primary teeth is usually painless. A tooth will gradually become looser and eventually fall out, usually when a child is eating or wiggling it.
If any discomfort occurs after the loss of a primary tooth, parents can help alleviate pain with a cold compress or pain-relieving medication. It is also important to reassure your child that some bleeding and tenderness is normal and will soon subside. You can help get your child excited about losing teeth. Talk to them about the Tooth Fairy or how this is a sign they’re becoming a “big kid” now.
Eruption of Permanent Adult Teeth
It is not uncommon for a permanent tooth to erupt before a child loses a primary tooth. This is not usually a cause for concern unless the primary tooth is not loose. In this case, a Melbourne, FL dentist may need to remove the tooth. As more primary teeth are shed, more adult teeth will emerge. Most children will get all of their adult teeth by the time they are 21 years old. The average adult has 32 permanent teeth.
Like the primary teeth, the eruption of the permanent teeth can greatly differ from child to child. However, the first molars are usually the first to arrive. Next come the central incisors, lateral incisors, canine teeth, premolars, and second molars. By the time a child reaches 17 to 21 years old, their third molars or “wisdom teeth” will usually have erupted. If they do not erupt and become problematic, they may need to be removed.
Dental Care Tips for Healthy Tooth Development
- Before your infant even has his or her first tooth, keep the gums clean and healthy. Run a damp, clean washcloth along the gum-line to wash away any harmful bacteria.
- When the first teeth erupt, brush with an infant toothbrush and a rice-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste.
- Begin flossing your child’s teeth as soon as two or more teeth start to touch.
- Teach your child to spit when brushing by the age of two.
- By age three, children should begin using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when brushing.
- Children under the age of eight require supervision during brushing to avoid swallowing toothpaste.
- Help your child brush at least twice a day – once in the morning and again before bed.