The journey to getting a complete set of teeth is a fairly long one, taking between 15 and 25 years from birth to when your wisdom teeth — or third molars — set in. While most parts of the body are fully formed at birth and continue to grow and develop after birth, their physical form remains more or less the same. But your teeth follow a different growth process.
From the painful teething process as your baby’s first teeth begin to erupt, through their replacement with permanent teeth, to the setting in of the third molars in your twenties, your teeth have a unique life cycle. This cycle doesn’t have to end with tooth loss since permanent teeth can last a lifetime with proper care.
The Development of Your Child’s Teeth
Here’s the amazing developmental life cycle of your child’s teeth:
1. Zero baby teeth
When you look into the mouth of a newborn, you don’t see any teeth. What you may not realize, though, is that the front teeth are actually formed, they’re simply hiding underneath the gums. The rest of the teeth are also undergoing development.
Human teeth begin to form in the womb, just six weeks after conception. The process begins when little buds found in the lining of the mouth start to grow down into the developing jaw; 10 on top and another 10 on the bottom. There are some rare cases where a baby is born with one of the teeth partly erupted through the gums. But for most babies, the teething process begins at the age of two to three months. Each tooth has a unique shape to facilitate the chewing process – and give them an adorable little smile!
2. The teething process
You will start to notice the first signs of baby teeth about six months after birth. The teeth usually form in an organized way, in pairs, with four new teeth emerging every six months – two on the upper jaw and two in the lower jaw. This begins with the front middle teeth, the incisors and lateral incisors, canines, and last but not least, the molars. Primary teeth are quite small and very white. All 20 of them typically form by the age of 2.
The teething process is quite uncomfortable for babies, resulting in achy, sensitive gums, making babies fussy. There are different strategies to help ease your baby’s teething discomfort, like giving them a carrot stick to bite on, teething toys, or cool, damp washcloths. Your dentist will be able to help you determine the best solution.
It’s not unusual for baby teeth to appear bluish in colour. This is because the inner part of the tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves is more prominent in baby teeth, while the outer layers of dentin and enamel are thinner and not opaque. The shade of the teeth isn’t an indicator of their health, so this should not be of concern.
It’s also important to note that there’s no medical importance attached to the timing of baby teeth. Whether they appear early or late, every child’s timing is unique and may safely vary with deviations of even 10 to 12 months, while remaining in the normal range. For instance, girls’ teeth usually erupt earlier than boys’.
3. The emergence of permanent teeth
The primary teeth, also known as baby teeth, are only meant to last for a short time, while the stronger and larger permanent teeth continue to form. Once the adult teeth are ready and begin to push their way to the surface, the primary teeth become loose and fall out to create space.
Baby teeth fall out in the same order they came in, starting with the front, middle incisors, which tend to fall out at the age of seven years. Around the age of eight years, the lateral incisors fall out, followed by the canines at age nine, and the molars at age eleven. The timing can vary by several months, but if it exceeds that, you should consult your dentist to ensure there is no underlying dental concern.
All 20 baby teeth will be replaced, and an additional 12 molars will emerge over time to give you a total of 32 permanent teeth. The final set of third molars, wisdom teeth, typically begin to erupt after 18 years of age. Some people don’t have enough space for wisdom teeth to grow in properly, resulting in painful, impacted, or infected teeth. In such cases, your dentist may recommend wisdom teeth removal. This surgery typically doesn’t affect the normal function of the mouth.
Caring for Your Child’s Smile
You should take your child to the dentist by their first birthday for a comprehensive examination to assess the condition of tooth development and assistance in caring for the baby teeth, including tips for cleaning the teeth and gums.
Proper dental care, which includes daily brushing and flossing using fluoridated toothpaste and regular dental visits for professional teeth cleaning and checkups can help ensure that your permanent teeth last a lifetime, and your smile remains largely intact with simple routine maintenance. Please visit one of our Treehouse Dental Care dentists for help developing a good dental care routine that will ensure your child enjoys a healthy and beautiful smile for a lifetime.
To learn more about the development of your child’s teeth, call Treehouse Dental at 1-833-333-6623 or contact us here.