Stages of teeth development

Stages of teeth development

Stages of teeth development: The initiation of deciduous tooth development takes place during fetal development. Around 5 weeks into gestation, the initial buds of deciduous teeth emerge in the baby’s jaw. By the time of birth, the baby already possesses a full set of deciduous teeth (10 in the upper jaw, 10 in the lower jaw), alongside some permanent teeth in the process of development. These deciduous teeth are alternatively referred to as baby teeth, milk teeth, first teeth, or primary teeth.

Types of teeth

The names of the different types of teeth are:

  • Incisors – the front teeth located in the upper and lower jaws. Each incisor has a thin cutting edge. The upper and lower incisors come together like a pair of scissors to cut the food.
  • Canines – the pointy teeth on both sides of the incisors in the upper and lower jaws; used to tear food.
  • Premolars – which have flat surfaces to crush food.
  • Molars – these are larger than premolars towards the back of the mouth, with broad, flat surfaces that grind food.


‘Eruption’ denotes the emergence of a tooth through the gum line. In infants, this phenomenon is termed teething. The timeline for each tooth’s eruption varies from one child to another. For instance, one child might experience the eruption of their first tooth within a few months of age, while another may not encounter this until they reach 12 months or beyond.

While the specific timing can vary, the sequence of tooth development remains relatively consistent. The initial teeth to erupt are the lower incisors, succeeded by the upper incisors, and subsequently, the first deciduous molars. On average, a child typically acquires their full set of 20 deciduous teeth by the age of 3 years.

Full set of teeth
Upper TeethTooth EruptsTooth Lost
Central incisor8 – 12 months6 – 7 years
Lateral incisor9 – 13 months7 – 8 years
Canine (cuspid)16 – 22 months10 – 12 years
First molar13 – 19 months9 – 11 years
Second molar25 – 33 months10 -12 years
Lower TeethTooth EruptsTooth Lost
Second molar23 – 31 months10 -12 years
First molar14 – 18 months9 – 11 years
Canine (cuspid)17 – 23 months9 – 12 years
Lateral incisor10 – 16 months7 – 8 years
Central incisor6 – 10 months6 – 7 years
Stages of teeth development

Managing the teething process

Around the age of 6 months, infants undergo changes in their immune systems. Coupled with their inclination to put objects in their mouths, this makes them more susceptible to illnesses. Symptoms commonly associated with childhood ailments, such as alterations in sleep and eating habits, fussiness, rash, drooling, runny nose, and diarrhea, are often attributed to teething. Typically, symptoms linked to teething persist for approximately 48 hours. If your child experiences these symptoms for an extended duration, it is crucial to consult your child’s doctor to explore other potential causes, including bacterial, viral, or middle ear infections.

Occasionally, a blue-grey bubble may become visible on the gum in the area where a tooth is preparing to emerge. This is referred to as an eruption cyst, and it typically resolves itself as the tooth breaks through. It’s essential during this period to offer your child extra support to ensure their comfort.

Some tips include:

  • Massage – gently massage the gum with clean fingers or a soft, wet cloth.
  • Chilled (not frozen) teething rings or rusks – pressure from a cold object can relieve discomfort from teething. Do not sterilise plastic teething rings in boiling water or dishwater, unless specified by the manufacturer. Be sure to check product information before buying teething rings. Avoid the ones that use a plastic softener called ‘diisononyl phthalate’.
  • Unsweetened teething rusks or sugar-free teething biscuits – these can be given to infants over 6 months who have started eating solids.
  • Painrelieving medications paracetamol works well for infants. Ibuprofen may also help, but it is not as well tolerated in infants.
  • Dry the drool – the skin around the mouth, particularly the chin area, can become irritated. Gently wipe this away with a soft cloth throughout the day.

Some treatments are not recommended. These include:

  • Teething necklaces – amber is believed by some people to release healing oil on contact with warm skin. The oil is thought to be soothing or help to reduce pain. Although amber teething strings or necklaces are designed to be worn around the neck, wrist or ankle, they have been incorrectly used to chew on. The ACCC has issued a product safety statement about amber teething necklaces, warning of possible choking and strangulation hazards. Parents are asked to consider other less risky ways of providing relief from teething.
  • Teething gels – common teething gels contain 8.7–9.0% of the ingredient choline salicylate. Salicylate is related to aspirin. The use of aspirin for children younger than 16 is not recommended because in some children it has been known to cause Reye’s syndrome – a rare but potentially lethal condition that can cause liver and brain damage. Teething gels also contain numbing medication like lignocaine and benzocaine. These medications are difficult to measure in teething gels potentially leading to ingestion of a toxic dose which can be fatal. The general advice is that it is a risk not worth taking when there are other things available.

Research also suggests that teething gels may not relieve teething pain, rather the act of massaging it into the gum is what helps.

Caring for baby teeth

Caring for deciduous teeth is as important as caring for permanent teeth. They allow children to chew food comfortably and speak properly, while reserving the spaces in the jaws for future adult teeth.

Child oral health
Stages of teeth development
From birthClean mouth and gums by wiping with a soft cloth
First toothBrush twice a day with a soft toothbrush and plain water
12 monthsTake your child for their first dental visit
18 monthsAdd a pea-sized amount of low fluoride/children’s toothpaste and encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste, not swallow and not rinse. Store toothpaste out of reach.
2 1/2 yearsBegin flossing between any teeth that touch
4 – 5 yearsStart teaching your child to brush his or her own teeth
6 yearsSwitch to adult toothpaste and spit out, not swallow and not rinse. Start teaching your child to floss his or her own teeth.
8 yearsAllow your child to brush and floss unsupervised and continue regular dental check-ups.
Stages of teeth development

Tooth decay in baby teeth

Preventing tooth decay is entirely achievable. The risk of developing dental decay can be significantly minimized through the adoption of good oral hygiene practices and a healthy diet, starting from a young age.

When baby teeth decay, prompt treatment by a dental professional is necessary. In certain instances, specialized treatment in a hospital with general anesthesia may be required. If left untreated, decayed baby teeth can lead to oral pain, dental abscesses (swelling caused by infected teeth), and issues with surrounding teeth. Severe decay in baby teeth can impact eating and sleep, potentially impeding growth.

The premature loss of a baby molar due to extensive decay can result in neighboring baby teeth shifting into the gap, causing spacing problems for the adult tooth as it emerges.

Loss of baby teeth

Around the age of 6, deciduous teeth begin to loosen and eventually fall out, making room for the emergence of adult teeth. It’s entirely normal for a child to lose their first tooth up to 2 years earlier or later than the age of 6, and girls typically lose teeth earlier than boys. The initial tooth to fall out is often one located in the front of the lower jaw.

The process of losing deciduous teeth can be unsettling and uncomfortable for young children. Here are some suggestions for parents:

  1. Reassure your child: Emphasize that losing baby teeth is a natural part of growing up, and new adult teeth will replace them. It’s normal for gums to be tender and bleed slightly, although some children may experience little or no discomfort during this phase.
  2. Manage discomfort: Use cold packs or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving medication to alleviate any pain associated with loose teeth. Consult with your dentist or pharmacist for recommendations on suitable medication for your child.
  3. Embrace the Tooth Fairy tradition: The concept of the Tooth Fairy, where a child receives money or another reward in exchange for a lost tooth, has endured for a reason. This imaginative tradition can help soften the idea of tooth loss for your child and turn it into a positive and exciting experience.

Permanent teeth

Permanent teeth, also referred to as adult or secondary teeth, commence development in the jaws around birth and continue throughout childhood. By around 21 years of age, the average person typically has 32 permanent teeth – 16 in the upper jaw and 16 in the lower jaw. However, some individuals may only have 28 permanent teeth if the third molars, commonly known as wisdom teeth, do not develop or fail to erupt.

The eruption of the first permanent molar teeth usually occurs at about 6 years of age. These four molars (two in each jaw) emerge behind the child’s baby teeth. Subsequent permanent teeth, including incisors, canines, and premolars, fill the spaces left by the exfoliated (fallen out/lost) deciduous teeth.

The timing of the eruption of permanent teeth varies, but a general order and timeline for each type of permanent tooth are as follows:

  1. First molars: Between 6 and 7 years.
  2. Central incisors: Between 6 and 8 years.
  3. Lateral incisors: Between 7 and 8 years.
  4. Canine teeth: Between 9 and 13 years.
  5. Premolars: Between 9 and 13 years.
  6. Second molars: Between 11 and 13 years.
  7. Third molars (wisdom teeth): Between the ages of 17 and 21 years, if they develop at all.

Stages of teeth development

Mouthguards protect children’s teeth

Mouthguards play a crucial role in safeguarding teeth and preventing dental injuries, especially during participation in contact sports and training activities. It is recommended that all children engaging in contact sports, including those in primary school, wear custom-fitted mouthguards. These personalized mouthguards offer comfort, permit normal speech, and do not impede breathing. Ensuring proper protection with a custom-fitted mouthguard is an essential step in promoting oral safety for children involved in sports. For additional information on mouthguards, it is advisable to explore further resources.

Stages of teeth development

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