Baby teeth—also known as milk, deciduous, or primary teeth—start sprouting between months four and seven after your baby is born, and they keep on erupting until about age three. For as few teeth as there are in your child’s mouth (as compared with an adult jaw), these little teeth seemingly just keep coming in.
There are outlying cases where a first tooth might come in as early as month three, or as late as month 18. Early and late development are nothing to be worried about, just ask your dentist if you’re unsure about your child’s specific case. By the time children reach age three, the great majority of them have all 20 of their baby teeth.
Baby teeth pre-birth development
Baby teeth start to form between weeks six to eight of fetal development, sometimes before a mother even knows she’s expecting. More interestingly yet, baby teeth actually develop over the sites where adult teeth begin to form directly beneath them—also during fetal development. Your baby begins developing those little quick-sprout baby teeth around two months into development—and then, before he or she is even born, the development of their adult teeth begins deep in the jaw around week 20.
The order baby teeth grow in
The first teeth you’ll see in your baby’s tiny mouth are the two central lower incisors. A few months later, your baby will probably grow upper incisors, with the standard pace of one tooth per month. Most children have around six teeth by the time they’re one year old. Over the course of the next couple of years, there are about another dozen teeth to go: starting with two remaining lower incisors, and four molars. Interestingly, you might notice that your child’s molars do not grow adjacent to the incisors—they save enough space for the later sprouting of canines.
The second-to-last burst of teeth are your child’s canines. After that (typically once your child is about three and a half years old), four new molars emerge behind the first set, finishing the set of 20 deciduous teeth. Of course, this is how it usually goes. Every baby’s mouth is different, so if you see something out of the ordinary, feel free to ask your dentist about it.
The tender pains of teething
During the process of baby teeth eruption, the gums above the sprouting baby teeth become swollen and a painful, which is the classic source of a teething baby’s irritability. Your baby will also have the insatiable desire to chew on toys to help put pressure on painful gums. Baby teeth growth is followed by increased saliva secretion, too, so you might notice a rash around your baby’s mouth and neck as a consequence. This is common, and nothing to worry about.
The funny thing about baby teeth
The funny thing about baby teeth is, after all that development and work, they start falling out between ages five and seven. This is one of the magical experiences of childhood that will also start to reveal what the oral health reality might be for your child as he or she reaches adolescence. Are teeth coming in straight? Could braces be in their future? Whatever the case, give your children their best shot at good oral hygiene by modeling good habits of your own!