When does a baby's teeth first start to appear? What's normal? Causes for concern? Dr. Rashid from The Kid's Dentist answers all your questions!
You’ve enjoyed your baby’s toothless smile for the past couple of months and while you wish it could last forever, we all know that’s not possible. The next thing you’re wondering is what the order of baby teeth appearance is like, what to expect, and when to be concerned.
To answer all your questions, we spoke to Dr. Rashid Tahir, specialist in Paediatric Dentistry, The Kids Dentist, Camden Medical Centre.
Getting to know the teeth
Before we go into the order of baby teeth appearance, Dr. Rashid says that it’s best to get familiar with the names of the teeth.
Let’s name the teeth from the front to the back.
There are two types of incisors – primary and lateral.
The front two teeth are known as the central incisors. Next to these are the lateral incisors.
The canines and then the molars follow this. Dr. Rashid states that there are 2 baby molars and no pre molars in the primary dentition (arrangement of the teeth).
Order of baby teeth appearance
Dr Rashid explains that while there are some exceptions, this is the general order of things.
- From 6 months old, babies start getting the lower central incisors. These come out from all over the place – lower right and lower left.
- The next teeth to erupt are usually the upper lateral incisors, anywhere between 8 to 12 months.
- The lower lateral incisors come in slightly after 12 months.
- The molars start erupting at about 18 months and they can come either at the top or the bottom.
- Then it goes back to the front and the canines start erupting
- The last molars usually appear at the end of 30 months.
Cause for concern?
We know mums and dads are anxious when it comes to just about anything to do with their little ones, and the order of baby teeth appearance is no exception.
Dr. Rashid reassures that there is great variation as to the timing of the eruption of the teeth so don’t worry too much.
A 6 month interval for new teeth to erupt is a general guideline.
If a year after a tooth appears, more teeth have yet to appear, then it might be a cause for concern.
It is also not common to get the upper tooth first, but if it does appear first, don’t worry too much. Wait and see as the children are developing. Anyway, there’s nothing much that you can do.
Again, the timeline for monitoring is between 6 months to a year.
What can you do?
At this stage, even if you are concerned, Dr. Rashid says that it’s pretty difficult to take an x-ray of the child at such a young age.
If teeth do not erupt on time, the only concern is an obstruction such as extra structures that impede the pathway of the tooth coming into the mouth (although this is uncommon).
If the baby is born with missing teeth, then there’s really nothing that you can do about it at this stage.
According to Dr. Rashid, the most common missing baby teeth are either the lower or upper lateral incisors.
Statistically, this occurs in about 2 to 10% in the permanent dentition. It is not so common in babies, but it does happen.
If there is a missing lower lateral incisor in the primary dentition, the chances of the missing adult tooth is there as well.
There is a 50% chance of a missing tooth occurring in adulthood if there is a missing tooth in childhood.
The solution is to either close the gap caused by the missing tooth or to replace it with a false tooth as the child gets older.
Apparently, there are some common old wives tales circulating in Singapore. Some say that if the baby’s teeth appear later, it is an indication that the teeth are stronger and will last longer.
Dr. Rashid wishes to dispel this myth. The timing of the appearance of the teeth is not an indication of its strength. What actually happens is that if the baby teeth come in later, it means that it’s very likely that the adult teeth will be replacing them a bit later as well.
Meaning, if you start getting teeth at about 7, 8 or 9 months, then the adult successors will come in later.
The order of baby teeth appearance is generally hereditary and follow the familial pattern.
Taking care of teeth
Dr. Rashid advises that the best time to visit the dentist is 6 months after the first eruption of the teeth. The trip to the dentist is important as the dentist will be able to impart preventive knowledge to the parents.
Prevention is always better than cure and parents need to learn how to prevent their baby’s teeth from decay and other conditions.
On a concluding note, Dr. Rashid wishes to remind parents that as soon as a child’s tooth erupts, the tooth can get decayed. If you create a poor environment where the child is not cleaning the teeth, or is exposed to sugars, then of course the risks go up.
Visit the dentist 6 months after your baby’s first tooth erupts. Dependant on the risk factors, your dentist will advise you how often you should visit the dentist for regular check ups.