How to Use a Tooth Eruption Chart to Track Your Child's Emerging Teeth

Toddler Smiling With Erupting Baby Teeth

Seeing your child's first baby tooth emerge is one of the joys of parenthood. But sometimes, it can seem like what's happening in their mouth — and when — is a mystery. It's normal to be confused about the timing and order in which your child's teeth should erupt. The fact is, teeth erupt at different rates, and some can even erupt nearly at the same time. Here's how to track your child's emerging teeth with a tooth eruption chart and when you should seek an appointment with a pediatric dentist.

Primary Teeth Eruption Timeline

In total, your little one will sprout 20 baby teeth, also known as primary teeth. These are already present at birth within their jaw, as the American Dental Association (ADA) explains, and they begin to erupt when your child is between 6 and 12 months old. The ADA notes that the first teeth to emerge are typically the top and bottom front teeth, also known as the central incisors, and the last teeth to come through are usually the second upper molars, once your child reaches 25 to 33 months of age.

The eruption of the central incisors can prompt drooling, biting or irritability — all common symptoms that can accompany teething, according to the Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

Tracking Primary Tooth Eruption

According to the ADA, teeth have different shapes and sizes, and the timeline in which they will erupt can also be very different. Some children's teeth erupt sooner, while others may take more time. This can make tracking your child's teeth eruption a bit of a puzzle, but keeping the ADA's tooth eruption chart handy and remembering these rules of thumb will help:

  • Generally, teeth emerge from the center to the back of your child's mouth.
  • Teeth tend to erupt in pairs on each side, notes the Cleveland Clinic.
  • For every six months of your child's life, you can expect four teeth to erupt, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Begin tracking your child's tooth eruption when the first one sprouts. Use this as a marker to understand when the next tooth may begin to emerge. The bottom front teeth usually come first, followed by the top front teeth and the top teeth right next to these, and so on, as the Cleveland Clinic explains. If multiple teeth seem to sprout overnight, there's no need to fret. It may be that your child is cutting more than one tooth at a time, and that they fall on the earlier end of the teeth eruption spectrum.

Permanent Teeth Eruption Timeline

School-age children experience a similar phase again, once their baby teeth begin to loosen and fall out and their permanent ones erupt — though this span of time is much longer.

They'll begin to cut their permanent teeth starting around age 6, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Certain types of teeth tend to erupt before others. In some children, the first permanent molars are the first to emerge, while others will see their incisors first. Adults have 32 permanent teeth in total, and by age 13, most children will have at least 28 of their permanent teeth. The final teeth, the third molars, often emerge between the ages of 17 and 21.

Here are some fact facts on permanent teeth eruption:

  • Either the incisors or first molars usually erupt first.
  • Lateral incisors, cuspids and premolars typically erupt after.
  • Second and third molars don't erupt until the preteen and teen years.

When to Call Your Pediatric Dentist

Don't be too alarmed if your 1-year-old child is happily gumming their food. Every child's teeth develop differently. However, Stanford Children's Health advises that if teeth fail to come in a year after the expected time according to your tooth eruption chart, you should make an appointment with your pediatric dentist. Rest assured that they will be able to guide you on what to expect in the years to come and how to help promote a healthy mouth for your child.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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What Are The Different Parts Of A Tooth?

Each tooth has several distinct parts; here is an overview of each part:

  • Enamel – this is the outer and hardest part of the tooth that has the most mineralized tissue in the body. It can be damaged by decay if teeth are not cared for properly.

  • Dentin – this is the layer of the tooth under the enamel. If decay makes it through the enamel, it next attacks the dentin — where millions of tiny tubes lead directly to the dental pulp.

  • Pulp – this is the soft tissue found in the center of all teeth, where the nerve tissue and blood vessels are located. If tooth decay reaches the pulp, you usually feel pain and may require a root canal procedure.