Young boy smiling - tooth eruption

Babies are born with 20 primary teeth (10 in the upper jaw and 10 in the lower jaw), but they are hidden underneath the gums. As babies grow and develop, so do their teeth. While every baby is different, most will follow a similar schedule.

Tooth eruption schedule for Childrens primary teeth

Baby Teeth Growth Schedule

When do baby teeth come in? When do they fall out? Let’s take a closer look at the schedule for baby teeth growth.

  • Babies can begin developing their first tooth as early as five months.
  • At the 12-month mark, babies typically have six teeth – four on the upper jaw and two on the lower jaw. A baby’s first set of teeth are used primarily for chewing and not biting.  
  • By age 2, a baby’s molars begin to erupt. Once their molars come in, babies can begin eating food properly.
  • At age 3, babies typically have 20 primary teeth – 10 on the top and 10 on the bottom. They erupt in pairs.  

A baby’s primary teeth will stick around until they’re about 7 or 8. The eruption process is naturally uncomfortable for babies. One way to soothe their gums and help them feel better is to gently rub a moist gauze or cloth on the gums. Teething rings can also help.

What You Need to Know About Your Baby’s Primary Teeth

Every baby is different. Some develop their primary teeth more quickly or more slowly than others. Here’s what you need to know about your little one’s baby teeth:

  • Although they are not permanent, your baby’s primary teeth still play an important role in the development of their adult teeth.
  • Baby teeth contain nerves, dentin, blood vessels, pulp and a root to anchor them to the jawbone just like permanent teeth.
  • Primary teeth prepare your baby’s mouth for their permanent teeth and will help develop their smile.
  • If primary teeth are lost too early, it can interfere with the eruption of their permanent teeth.
  • Primary teeth help with the development of a child’s speech.  
  • It’s important to break a child’s habit of sucking their thumb or on a pacifier by the age of two. Thumb-sucking can affect a child’s tooth development and the alignment of their teeth. Eventually misalignment could result in either future Invisalign or braces.
  • Primary teeth are important for a baby’s nutrition. They allow them to chew foods, making digestion easier.  

Children begin losing their primary teeth at the age of six. Once they have lost their primary teeth, their permanent molars come in at the back of the mouth.  

At around eight years old, a child’s permanent front teeth start erupting.

The rest of a child's adult teeth will erupt by the time they reach 13 years old.

Preventing Decay of a Child’s Primary Teeth

Tooth decay is the most common childhood chronic disease in Canada. More than 50% of children between ages 6 and 11 have a cavity.

Here’s what parents can do to help prevent decay:

  • Brush regularly. Use just a rice-sized amount of toothpaste for children under the age of three. At three years of age, start using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
  • Floss gently to remove any food particles stuck between the teeth. Start doing this once you see two teeth that touch.
  • Help your child brush until they can do it on their own.
  • Take your child to their first dentist appointment at one years old.
Child eating cake at age 1

Parents can also consider:

  • Fluoride treatment: A fluoride varnish may provide an extra layer of protection against cavities. The process is painless and quick.  
  • Sealants: There are also sealants that can be placed on the grooves and pits of the child’s molars to protect against cavities in these areas.

Sugary foods and drinks can also contribute to tooth decay in children, so encouraging a healthy diet can also help prevent cavities.

Types of Teeth

To understand the timeline for your child’s teeth, it’s important to understand the types of teeth that are in your mouth.

  • Incisors: These are the front teeth in the upper and lower jaws. When eating, these teeth come together like scissors to cut food.
  • Canine: These are the pointy teeth that sit on both sides of the incisors. They help tear food.
  • Premolars: These sit just next to the canine teeth. They have flat surfaces that crush food.
  • Molars: These sit next to the premolars and also have flat surfaces. They are larger than the premolars and are located at the back of the mouth.

When Do Primary Teeth Come In and Shed?

According to the ADA, here is the timeline for when a child’s primary teeth come in and shed.

Upper Teeth

  • Central Incisor: Erupts at 8-12 months and sheds at 6-7 years.
  • Lateral Incisor: Erupts at 9-13 months and sheds at 7-8 years.
  • Canine: Erupts at 16-22 months and sheds at 10-12 years.
  • First Molar: Erupts at 13-19 months and sheds at 9-11 years.
  • Second Molar: Erupts at 25-33 months and sheds at 10-12 years.

Lower Teeth

  • Second Molar: Erupts at 23-31 months and sheds at 10-12 years.
  • First Molar: Erupts at 14-18 months and sheds at 9-11 years.
  • Canine: Erupts at 17-23 months and sheds at 9-12 years.
  • Lateral Incisor: Erupts at 10-16 months and sheds at 7-8 years.
  • Central Incisor: Erupts at 6-10 months and sheds at 6-7 years.

Around 6 years of age, a child’s primary teeth become loose and start falling out (shedding). Some children may start losing their teeth one to two years earlier or later than 6 years old. The first tooth to shed is usually at the front of the lower jaw.

Signs of Tooth Eruption

Some babies don’t experience any noticeable discomfort when they’re teething, but other babies may:

  • Drool more often
  • Be more irritable
  • Cry more often
  • Have a strong desire to chew on things
  • Have trouble eating and sleeping as normal

When Do a Child’s Permanent Teeth Come In?

Cute boy with a chase had and spiderman shirt smiling outdoors

Although every child is different, permanent teeth usually erupt according to the following schedule.

Upper Teeth

  • Central Incisor: 7-8 years old.
  • Lateral Incisor: 8-9 years old.
  • Canine: 11-12 years.
  • First Premolar: 10-11 years.
  • Second Premolar: 10-12 years.
  • First Molar: 6-7 years.
  • Second Molar: 12-13 years.
  • Third Molar: 17-21 years.

Lower Teeth

  • Central Incisor: 6-7 years old.
  • Lateral Incisor: 7-8 years old.
  • Canine: 9-10 years.
  • First Premolar: 10-12 years.
  • Second Premolar: 11-12 years.
  • First Molar: 6-7 years.
  • Second Molar: 11-13 years.
  • Third Molar: 17-21 years.

How Should You Clean Your Baby’s Primary Teeth and How Often?

It's important to start taking care of your child’s primary teeth early on. Here’s how to clean your little one’s teeth:

  • Use a soft-bristled brush or a textured finger cover to gently remove plaque.
  • Make sure that you clean both the front and back of the teeth.
  • Consider minimizing the sharing of cups and spoons. Bacteria can be transferred to your baby’s mouth this way, too.
  • Brush twice per day – morning and evening.
  • Use a children’s toothpaste that contains fluoride. Always supervise your child when brushing to ensure they don’t swallow the toothpaste.

When your child only has a few teeth, cleaning may be quick. Once your child becomes a toddler and has a full set of primary teeth, cleaning will take two minutes.  

When Can Children Start Brushing on Their Own?

Most children need to be supervised when brushing until around age 7 or 8. At this point, most kids are able to thoroughly clean their teeth on their own.

Instilling good brushing habits early on is important and will help children learn how to clean their teeth properly and thoroughly. If it becomes a habit early on, then children will be more likely to continue this habit into adulthood.

Small school age girl brushing with green toothbrush

At What Age Do Children Get Braces?

Permanent teeth start coming in between the ages of 9 and 13. Around this time, some children will need metal braces or Invisalign to help correct issues.  

It’s a good idea to take your child to an orthodontist between the ages of 7 and 12.

Braces can do more than just straighten a child’s teeth and improve the aesthetics of their smile. They can also help correct issues that make it harder to breathe, eat or even speak. It's important to take care of your Invisalign trays or braces to prevent cavities or excessive staining.

Why Regular Checkups are Important

Although a child’s primary teeth eventually fall out, it’s important to care for them properly and bring your child in for regular checkups.  

What Happens During Your Child’s First Dental Appointment?

When you bring your child in for their first dental appointment, the goal is to start developing a friendly and positive relationship. Of course, the health of your child’s new teeth, gums and teeth alignment will also be checked.

Parents may also be asked about the child’s oral habits, such as:

  • Tongue thrusting
  • Teeth grinding
  • Thumbsucking
  • Lip sucking

Parents may get some advice on teething, tips on how to soothe discomfort and information on the correct brushing technique.

It’s important to ask any questions that you may have about your child’s dental health, brushing or what to look for.  

Regular checkups and proper care of your child’s oral health can help instill healthy habits early on in life.  

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Dr. Gurpreet Sidhu - Dentist at Lighthouse Dental Centre and Blue Water Dental
Dr. Gurpreet Sidhu

With nearly two decades of experience, Dr. Sidhu enjoys helping his patients learn about dentistry. Knowledge is meant to be improved, challenged and shared.

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