Teething can begin as early as 4 months of age, but most babies get their first tooth around 6 months of age. Teeth usually come in pairs. The bottom front two teeth typically show up first, followed by the top ones (both sets are called central incisors). Then the side front teeth (lateral incisors) fill in, followed by the first molars and then the canines. The second molars are the last to erupt between 2 and 3 years of age. The total number of primary teeth are 20 and they are usually all erupted around age 3. The permanent teeth won’t begin to replace them until the child is 4 to 6 years old and they will still continue to shed baby teeth until 10 to 12 years old.
It’s rare, but some children already have a tooth when they’re born, usually a bottom front tooth. It may be the “real” baby tooth or an extra (supernumerary) tooth in the set that has grown over the baby tooth and permanent tooth underneath it. This extra tooth will fall out when the baby tooth erupts. Sometimes, these teeth (real or extra) need to be removed if they are very loose and so increases the risk of choking or if it is causing problems with feeding and their nutrition is affected.
If your infant is 8 months old and still doesn’t have their first tooth, it is OK. The first tooth can come in anytime between 4 and 12 months. If a tooth hasn’t come in by 1 year, there is probably still no reason to worry, he may just be a late bloomer. In rare instances, lack of teeth is a sign of a metabolic disorder, but if that were the case, a child would have other growth problems as well.
Dr Reid is a Pugh Award distinguished board eligible pediatric dentist. She earned her pediatric specialty training through UCLA’s program at San Diego Rady Children’s Hospital. She has also served our servicemen as a Dental Officer at the Marine Corp Air Station, Miramar in San Diego. She’s also mommy to 5 year old Ezra. To follow her monthly blog posts, follow her at PediatricDentistSanDiego.com.