Dental Care

Baby Teeth Development

Throughout the course of their young lives, baby teeth development passes certain important stages.

The first set is the primary teeth, also known as the milk teeth, and properly called the deciduous teeth

Between the ages of six and twelve, a child will begin losing the first teeth.

His permanent teeth -also known as the succedaneous teeth- will push through and replace them. 

It's important to understand everything about baby teeth development and care of these teeth, because they must last your child a lifetime.

Before your baby was born, his teeth began developing and lining up along what doctors call the dental arches.  Each person has a dental arch on the top and bottom of his mouth. 

The top arch is slightly larger than the bottom arch, and so the teeth on top will slightly overlap those on the bottom.

Baby Teeth Development: Types of Teeth

  • 4 Central Incisors: There are two central incisors in the very front of a person's dental arch on top and another two on the bottom arch. The incisors on the top arch are slightly wider than the bottom teeth.
  • 4 Lateral Incisors: They come through on either side of the central incisors, on the right and left sides of the mouth and on both the top and bottom arches. All eight incisors, incidentally, are designed so that a person can bite off the pieces of food that he wants to eat.
  • 4 Cuspids: There will be two on top, flanking the four incisors, and two on the bottom doing likewise. People also call these the canine teeth or the eyeteeth.
  • 8 Premolars: Children grow two of these next to each cuspid -four on each dental arch for a total of 8. Many people call them the first and second molars, but they are more correctly known as bicuspids: They have two points on them, and they can aid in chewing food but they aren't equipped to do the heavy grinding work of proper molars.

Baby Teeth Development and The Order of Appearance

  • Expect to see the central incisors on the bottom dental arch come through Baby's gums when he or she is about six or so months.
  • Next, you can watch for the lateral incisors on the lower arch at approximately seven months.
  • The central incisors will show through the gums on the top arch between the seventh and eighth months.
  • The lateral incisors on top will arrive at around eight months.
  • The first molars or bicuspids on both the top and bottom will push through next between the ages of 13-16 months.
  • The cuspids, or eye teeth, arrive when Baby is about 17 months.
  • The second primary molars -another set of bicuspids- will erupt at approximately 20 months. But if Baby takes until he's 30 months, it certainly is not abnormal.
  • When your child is about seven, his first set of real molars will push through. They are followed by the second set of molars at approximately age 12, for a total of 28 permanent teeth. The third set of molars, called the wisdom teeth, normally erupt (and usually with some difficulty) at about age 20.

Why Is Baby Teeth Development So Important?

Yes, it's true that your child will not have his baby teeth for very many years.  So why bother wiping them off when he's an infant and teaching how to brush when he's a toddler? 

The answer is that it's very important to preserve them so that the permanent teeth can grow in on schedule, as evenly as possible. 

One mother tells the story of her toddler's need to have her baby incisors extracted because of decay -the result of letting her fall asleep with a bottle of milk in her mouth on a regular basis. 

The permanent teeth were not ready to descend, and over the next couple years her gums hardened so that it took work from an oral surgeon to cut open a space for the permanent incisors to come through.

Another mother remembers that an older relative pulled out her youngster's first tooth almost as soon as it was loose.  Instead of allowing it the time to loosen and fall out on its own, this uncle wanted the child to have a visit from the tooth fairy.  The permanent tooth was not ready to erupt; the eruption of another tooth out of the proper order resulted in misaligned teeth. 

Even though they are in place for just a few short years, baby teeth development provide the following functions:

  • They are space holders for the permanent teeth.
  • They provide the face with its normal, rounded appearance.
  • Teeth are important for the development of proper speech and enunciation.
  • Healthy teeth help maintain good nutrition, since children reject food when their teeth hurt or if they are missing.
  • Keeping baby teeth healthy protects the permanent teeth beneath them -decay and infection in the primary set can be passed on to the secondary set.


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