An infant’s first tooth is a milestone for all parents. The first baby tooth erupts at around six months, hence if there is any delay parents start to panic if everything is alright.

Kids have 20 teeth, also called the deciduous teeth or primary teeth. All primary teeth should erupt by the time a child is 2 to 3 years of age.

A general rule is for every six months of life, approximately four teeth will erupt. Girls precede boys in tooth eruption, lower teeth usually erupt before upper teeth, and primary teeth typically erupt in pairs.

This article will walk you through the phases from the erupting first tooth to the exfoliation of the first tooth.

The eruption of primary teeth

A general timeline of the eruption of primary teeth (Baby teeth eruption chart)

Upper teethAgeLower teethAge
Central incisors8-12 monthsCentral incisors6-10 months
Lateral incisors9-13 monthsLateral incisors10-16 months
Canine16-22 monthCanine17-23 months
First molar13-19 monthsFirst molar14-18 months
Second molar25- 33 monthsSecond molar23-31 months

Many infants don’t get their first teeth until their first birthday.

Before baby teeth are visible, there are specific changes known as teething. In this phase before the eruption of teeth infants are usually fussy, tend to cry a lot, don’t sleep well at night and lose their appetite also. Swollen gums and drooling are key signs of teething.

Parents should take their child for a dental check-up six months after their first tooth comes or by the age of 1.

After the first tooth comes in, parents should start brushing their infant’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice daily. Use a tiny amount of toothpaste and gently brush their teeth so that they get used to the sensation.

Also, fluoride is critical because the tooth is not completely mineralized and is at risk for decay.  Fluoride helps strengthen the structure and makes enamel resistant to damage.

By age 3, all the 20 baby teeth erupt, and you can begin using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.

Stage 1- Lasts for 4-16 months and during this period all the incisors erupt

The first baby teeth erupt between 4 – 7 months of age. As a general rule, the lower incisors erupt first followed by the upper central incisors which erupt between 8-12 months.

The upper lateral incisors erupt between 9-13 months post which the lower laterals erupt when the infant is 10-16 months old.

Stage 2- lasts for 13-20 months and the back teeth (molar) begin to erupt

After the incisors erupt and continue to grow, the other teeth slowly erupt and often erupt in pairs. The molars follow the incisors. Molars are the wider teeth located at the back of the mouth.

At 13-19 months the upper first molar erupts followed by lower molars which erupt between 12-20 months of age. The primary function of molars is to grind food during chewing and molars allow the baby to chew solid food.

Stage 3- lasts for 16-23 months and the canines begin to erupt

Canines erupt in the gap between incisors and molars. The canines are also referred to as vampire teeth due to the sharp and pointed appearance.

The upper canines erupt at around 16-22 months followed by the lower canines which erupt at 17-23 months. The canines help in tearing of food and are the sharpest teeth among the lot.

Also, canines are called the cornerstone of mouth due to their strategic position.

Stage 4- the final stage which lasts for 25-33 months

The upper and lower second molars come in last. These are flat and wide teeth which help to grind food and also help to define the shape of the face.

By the age of three, your child is likely to have all the 20 primary teeth. (1)

How to look after baby’s teeth?

Some people don’t give much attention to oral hygiene of their kids’ teeth as they think these teeth are temporary and will fall off, so it doesn’t make sense to care for them which is untrue.

Every parent should care for their kids’ teeth, and the various reasons are –

  • The primary teeth reserve space for adult teeth and lay down the foundation for permanent teeth to grow in their designated places.
  • Primary teeth give shape and definition to a kid’s face.
  • Primary teeth help the child speak and pronounce correctly.
  • Primary teeth help children to chew and process food.
  • Primary teeth give a healthy start to adult teeth (decay and infection in baby teeth can cause damage to permanent teeth developing beneath them).

Brush your child’s teeth twice daily and also make sure he spits out the toothpaste and doesn’t eat it. Take pea-sized amount toothpaste to brush your child’s teeth. As the child grows, brushing twice becomes a habit.

Exfoliation of primary (baby) teeth

Throughout childhood, primary teeth fall out at different times. Shedding of teeth is also called exfoliation. Primary teeth exfoliate and permanent teeth erupt in their place.

By the age of 21, all of the 32 teeth usually come in. When a child has a mix of primary and permanent teeth, then that phase is known as mixed dentition.

A general timeline of exfoliation of primary teeth –

Upper teethAgeLower Teeth                 Age           
Central incisors6-7 yearsCentral incisors6-7 years
Lateral incisors7-8 yearsLateral incisors7-8 years
Canines10-12 yearsCanines9-12 years
First molar9-11 yearsFirst molar9-11 years
Second molar10-12 yearsSecond molar10-12 years

Over to you

This chart is a general chart which takes into account the majority of infants. So if your infant’ tooth hasn’t erupted at the age of 6months, don’t panic. Instead, wait for a few months or consult a dentist to know the cause of the delay. (2) (3)

Kids have 20 teeth, also called the deciduous teeth or primary teeth. All primary teeth should erupt by the time a child is 2 to 3 years