Before we get into the meat of this post, let’s take a quick aside. The aside is important – it’s about where you should get your medical information from. Sites like WebMD and Healthline are not the way to go – while the information can be decent, misinformation can pop up on the sites pretty frequently. Whenever possible, use sources from the government or professional organizations. In Canada, the Canadian Dental Association is an excellent source.
Why bring this up now? The source we’re going to use for this brief post on baby teeth is Mouth Healthy, a website designed for patients by the American Dental Association. They provide an eruption chart which shows exactly when baby teeth come in and fall out. Click on that link, and let’s discuss in greater detail:
First, note that the lower central incisor tends to be the first tooth that pops out, at around 6-10 months. The next tooth is the top central incisor, which appears within the first 8-12 months. Note the overlap here; it’s possible that the top central incisor erupts before the lower one. After this, the lateral incisors emerge, followed by the canines, then the first and second molars. Again, you may see some overlap between the periods in which the teeth are expected to erupt. All this to say, don’t worry if a tooth emerges “sooner” than you expect; as long as it’s erupting within the expected timeframes, all is okay.
Now here’s where things get confusing: the permanent teeth start coming in. You’ll notice that the first lower permanent molar starts coming in at 6-7 years, but the first lower baby molar only sheds (a weird term for losing teeth, but an accurate one) between 9-11 years. How can this be?
The answer lies in how many baby teeth we have, and how many adult teeth we have. We only have 20 baby teeth, but 32 adult teeth. As we mature, we grow three molars on both sides of the top and bottom of our mouths. The “molars” we have in our youth are effectively replaced when our permanent teeth come in.
All together, a child should have lost all of their teeth by the time they’re 12 years old. There’s a bit of wiggle room (pun intended), though if you’re concerned, you should always see your dentist. In fact, any time you’re worried your child’s teeth aren’t erupting or falling out in time, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Determining whether or not it’s something to be concerned about might be something a children’s dentist could help with over the phone, or with a brief exam.
Hopefully, this has given you some insight into not only how tooth eruptions work, but what kinds of sources you should check when you’re looking for medical information. Take good care!