Teeth Development in Children

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The development of teeth in children is a fascinating process that begins even before they are born. By understanding the stages of teeth development, parents can ensure proper care and support as their child’s teeth grow. In this article, we will explore the different types of teeth, the teething process, and how to care for baby teeth.

Types of Teeth

Teeth come in various types, each with its own function in the chewing process. The different types of teeth include:

  • Incisors: Located in the front of the upper and lower jaws, these teeth have a thin cutting edge. They work together like a pair of scissors to cut food.
  • Canines: Found on both sides of the incisors, these pointy teeth in the upper and lower jaws are used to tear food.
  • Premolars: With flat surfaces, these teeth help crush food.
  • Molars: Located towards the back of the mouth, these larger teeth have broad, flat surfaces that grind food.


Teething refers to the process of teeth breaking through the gum line. While the exact timing may vary from child to child, the order of tooth development remains consistent. Typically, the lower incisor teeth are the first to erupt, followed by the upper incisors and the first deciduous molars. By the age of 3, the average child has all 20 deciduous teeth.

It’s important to note that teething can cause discomfort for infants, leading to symptoms such as changes in sleep and eating patterns, fussiness, rash, drooling, runny nose, and diarrhea. While these symptoms typically last for about 48 hours, prolonged symptoms should be discussed with a pediatrician to rule out other causes.

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Managing the Teething Process

During the teething process, there are several ways to provide support and comfort for your child:

  • Massage: Gently massage the gums with clean fingers or a soft, wet cloth.
  • Chilled Teething Rings or Rusks: Pressure from a cold object can relieve discomfort. However, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid teething rings that contain certain plastic softeners.
  • Unsweetened Teething Rusks or Sugar-Free Teething Biscuits: These can be given to infants over 6 months who have started eating solids.
  • Pain-Relieving Medications: Paracetamol is effective for infants, while ibuprofen may also help but is less tolerated in this age group.
  • Dry Drool: Gently wipe away drool with a soft cloth to prevent skin irritation.

It’s important to note that certain treatments, such as teething necklaces and teething gels, are not recommended due to potential hazards and lack of proven effectiveness.

Caring for Baby Teeth

Caring for baby teeth is just as important as caring for permanent teeth. These teeth allow children to chew food comfortably, speak properly, and reserve spaces in the jaws for future adult teeth. To prevent tooth decay, it’s crucial to establish good oral hygiene habits and maintain a healthy diet from a young age.

If baby teeth develop decay, they should be treated by a dental professional. Neglected decay can lead to mouth pain, dental abscesses, and problems with the surrounding teeth, which can impact a child’s eating, sleep, and overall growth.

Loss of Baby Teeth

Around the age of 6, baby teeth become loose and eventually fall out, making way for permanent teeth. It’s normal for children to experience some discomfort and bleeding during this process. Parents can reassure their child that losing baby teeth is a natural process and use cold packs or over-the-counter pain relievers to alleviate any pain.

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The myth of the Tooth Fairy can also be used as a fun way to soften the idea of tooth loss for children, with the exchange of a lost tooth for a small reward.

Permanent Teeth

By the age of 21, the average person has 32 permanent teeth, 16 in the upper jaw and 16 in the lower jaw. However, some people may not develop or have all four wisdom teeth, resulting in 28 permanent teeth.

Permanent teeth development begins around birth and continues into childhood. The order and timeline for each type of permanent tooth can vary but generally follow this pattern:

  • First molars: Between 6 and 7 years.
  • Central incisors: Between 6 and 8 years.
  • Lateral incisors: Between 7 and 8 years.
  • Canine teeth: Between 9 and 13 years.
  • Premolars: Between 9 and 13 years.
  • Second molars: Between 11 and 13 years.
  • Third molars (wisdom teeth): Between 17 and 21 years, if present.

Mouthguards for Tooth Protection

When participating in contact sports, it’s vital for children to wear custom-fitted mouthguards to protect their teeth and prevent dental injuries. Even primary school-age children should use mouthguards, as they are comfortable and do not restrict breathing.


Understanding the development and care of children’s teeth is crucial for parents to ensure proper oral health. By following good oral hygiene practices, providing support during the teething process, and protecting teeth during physical activities, parents can contribute to their child’s healthy smile and overall well-being.


Q: When do baby teeth start to develop?
A: The development of deciduous teeth begins while the baby is in the womb, with the first buds appearing at around 5 weeks’ gestation.

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Q: What are the different types of teeth?
A: The different types of teeth are incisors, canines, premolars, and molars, each with its own function in the chewing process.

Q: How can I manage my child’s teething process?
A: Some tips for managing the teething process include gently massaging the gums, using chilled teething rings or rusks, and providing pain-relieving medications if necessary.

Q: Why is caring for baby teeth important?
A: Caring for baby teeth is essential as they help children chew food comfortably, speak properly, and reserve spaces in the jaws for future adult teeth.

Q: When do permanent teeth start to come in?
A: The first permanent molars typically erupt around the age of 6, followed by other types of permanent teeth in a specific order and timeline.

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