Children & Dentistry

At what age should my child's various teeth come in?

Healthy baby teeth  act as guides for the child's permanent teeth which appear later. If the baby teeth decay and are not repaired, they may be lost too early. This can cause crooked permanent teeth. Healthy baby teeth help the child to chew food well, speak properly, and have a pleasant appearance.

Your child's first tooth will appear, erupt, at about six to eight months. By three years of age, all 20 baby or primary teeth will have appeared. The chart below shows the approximate age that each primary tooth erupts and is lost or shed.

Upper Teeth: Eruption Date Shedding Date
a central incisor 8 - 12 months 6 - 7 years
b lateral incisor 9 - 13 months 7 - 8 years
c cuspid 16 - 22 months 10 - 12 years
d first molar 13 - 19 months 9 - 11 years
e second molar 25 - 33 months 10 - 12 years


Lower Teeth: Eruption Date Shedding Date
e second molar 23 - 31 months 10 - 12 years
d first molar 14 - 18 months 9 - 11 years
c cuspid 17 - 23 months 9 - 12 years
b lateral incisor 10 - 16 months 7 - 8 years
a central incisor 6 - 10 months 6 - 7 years
*Information and charts courtesy Alberta Health and Wellness

As children near six years of age, their jaws grow in order to make space for the permanent teeth. The first permanent teeth to erupt are usually the six-year molars in the lower jaw, followed by the lower permanent incisors. The chart below indicates the dates when the permanent teeth will likely appear.

Upper Teeth: Eruption Date
1 central incisor 7 - 8 years
2 lateral incisor 8 - 9 years
3 cuspid 11 - 12 years
4 first bicuspid 10 - 11 years
5 second bicuspid 10 - 12 years
6 first molar 6 - 7 years
7 second molar 12 - 13 years
8 third molar 17 - 21 years


Lower Teeth: Eruption Date
8 third molar 17 - 21 years
7 second molar 11 - 13 years
6 first molar 6 - 7 years
5 second bicuspid 11 - 12 years
4 first bicuspid 10 - 12 years
3 cuspid 9 - 10 years
2 lateral incisor 7 - 8 years
1 central incisor 6 - 7 years
*Information and charts courtesy Alberta Health and Wellness

When should my child first go to see a dentist?

We recommend that you have your child visit the dentist before the age of 3, even if it is just for a ride in the chair. Make appointments early in the day - children usually do better when they're rested. Be low-key. Treat the visit as routine.

There are several things you can do to prepare for the visit. For instance, try playing "dentist". Count your toddler's teeth, then switch roles and let him/her count yours. Make the exercise fun and explain that this is what the dentist is going to do. Explain some things that may happen at the dentist's office without getting technical. You can say that the dentist will count the teeth and may take some pictures of the teeth with a special camera. You might also find that taking your child along with an older brother or sister when they go for a routine check-up or cleaning is a good way to familiarize him or her with the dentist's office.

At the first visit, be sure to advise your dentist about any special needs or medical problems your child may have, such as allergies, asthma or bleeding disorders. Have your child bring a favourite stuffed toy. Sometimes we all need a little moral support.

The health of your child's teeth is essential for proper growth and development, a happy smile and self-confidence. The baby teeth keep the spaces for the adult teeth that follow, and if adult teeth don't develop, sometimes baby teeth need to last a lifetime!

Helping your child get off to a positive start with your dentist can do more than just make your visits with your child stress-free for both of you. Many adults who avoid going to the dentist even when they have a serious dental problem trace their "dental anxiety" to negative childhood dental experiences.

What can I do to help my child's teeth stay healthy?

Training your baby for a lifetime of healthy gums and teeth should start early, long before he or she actually goes to the dentist. Start by gently cleaning your baby's gums with a clean washcloth before the first teeth come in. As soon as the first teeth erupt, you need to start cleaning them for your baby. You should brush your child's teeth for them until he or she has developed enough coordination to tie his or her own shoes. Once your child is able to brush you should supervise brushing until the age of 8. Make sure your child uses a toothpaste containing fluoride, and uses a fluoride rinse if recommended by your dentist. Children's teeth should be flossed if they fit closely together.

Other things you can do to ensure good dental health for your child include:

  • not putting a baby to bed with a bottle containing milk, juice or any other liquid other than water
  • encouraging your child to avoid sweets and sticky foods
  • teaching your child to brush after snacking
  • checking your child's teeth for white, yellow or brown spots, which can be signs of decay
  • making sure your child visits the dentist every 6 months. Cavities in baby teeth can progress quickly.


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