Baby Teeth and Teething

Smiling BabyBeing mammals, we sport two sets of teeth, the primaries and the permanent. Assuming Mom has already lent strength to her baby’s teeth during pregnancy—beginning from week seven of prenatal life—teeth grow through two stages. In the first permutation, teeth take shape; in the second, the cells are actually transformed to perform different functions. All this is percolating as you enjoy pickles and ice cream.

When your baby is born, you won’t see teeth, but they’re there. Enamel and dentin are still forming in the jaw and, in a matter of months, the teething process is well underway. The root, however, will take another few years to be firmly established.

Make no mistake about the role of “baby” teeth—they are indispensable. The front teeth are going to be around for about 5 or 6 years, the molars for a decade. And they clearly map the route for permanent teeth. Interrupt this path with missing teeth, and your child may be set for life with a bite just out of alignment, or crowded dentition.

The upper primaries will usually hang on longer than the lowers, but keeping them all shipshape is critical to the health of permanent teeth. With luck and hygiene, your child will keep a full set of 32 permanent teeth for 90% of his or her life. Keep your fingers crossed and the pickles handy.

There are 20 primary teeth, 10 in each jaw. By the time the child is 2 or 3, a complete set should arrive. As the jaw continues to grow, you may notice some gaps which will probably resolve later on.

Teething Schedule

  • Central incisors, 9-10 months (lost at about 6-7 years old)
  • Lateral incisors, 11-12 months (lost at about 10-12 years old)
  • Canines, 18-19 months (lost at about 10-12 years old)
  • First molars, 15-16 months (lost at about 9-11 years old)
  • Second molars, 26-27 months (lost at about 10-12 years old)

About William J. Black, DDS

William Black earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry from the University of California, Davis in 1988. He then went on to the University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry, where he graduated in 1992. Following dental school, Dr. Black served in the Untied States Navy for 3 years as a dentist. He then settled in the Sacramento area where he opened his practice in 1996. Dr. Black is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA), California Dental Association (CDA), Sacramento District Dental Society (SDDS), Academy of General Dentistry, and American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). He is currently pursuing Mastership with the Academy of General Dentistry and accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

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