The eruption of a baby’s first tooth is a major milestone in the child’s life. The event is awaited with trepidation and delight. We dread the thought of our baby suffering, fear we’ll be inadequate to relieve the discomforts, and at the same time delight at the prospect of our child’s development.

Babies are normally born with all 20 primary teeth formed in their gums. A baby’s first tooth is likely to erupt at around  6 months.  Girls tend to premiere earlier than boys, and there’s a lot of variation overall due to genetic and other factors.  Low birth weight is correlated with later eruption, and if a baby reaches the age of 18 months with no eruption then your dentist should be consulted.

Eruption of the primary (baby) teeth generally proceeds at the rate of about four teeth every six months, until all 20 of the baby teeth have erupted by age 2-3. Eruption charts, showing the timelines for all the baby teeth,  are readily available on the internet and are perfect for anticipating and tracking a child’s progress.

At this stage, parents and children get a vacation from the teething drama, but of course should be diligent about proper care of that set of baby teeth. Yes, they’re going to start falling out at around age 6-7. Nevertheless, their health is important to the permanent teeth that begin to erupt at 7-8 years of age. 

The process of shedding baby teeth usually begins with the front teeth (incisors), top and bottom.  The gap-tooth smile may well be with you for a year or so until the permanent successors have closed it.  From there on it’s shed-erupt-repeat around the mouth until about age 13, when the 20 baby teeth have been replaced by 28 permanent teeth.

The full complement of 32 permanent teeth is generally completed between the ages of 17 and 21 with the eruption of the 4 third molars, the wisdom teeth.

That’s the timeline. There’s a lot of normal variation due to heredity, but you should never hesitate to bring any concerns about delayed eruption to the attention of your dentist. The experience of teething, from your child’s point of view, can be anywhere on the spectrum from effortless to excruciating, but we have lots of experience and resources for easing a child’s passage through this stage of life. We should do our best to enjoy and treasure the experience. 

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