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​Development of Teeth

The first teeth begin to break through the gums at about 8 months of age. Usually, the first two teeth to erupt are the two bottom central incisors (the two bottom front teeth). Next, the top four front teeth emerge.

After that, other teeth slowly begin to fill in, usually in pairs -- one each side of the upper or lower jaw -- until all 20 teeth (10 in the upper jaw and 10 in the lower jaw) have come in by the time the child is 2 ½ to 3 years old. The complete set of primary teeth is in the mouth from the age of 2 ½ to 3 years of age to 6 to 7 years of age.                     

Other primary tooth eruption facts:

A general rule of thumb is that for every 6 months of life, approximately 4  teeth will erupt.


  • Girls generally precede boys in tooth eruption.

  • Lower teeth usually erupt before upper teeth.

  • Teeth in both jaws usually erupt in pairs -- one on the right and one on the left.

  • Primary teeth are smaller in size and whiter in color than the permanent teeth that will follow.

  • By the time a child is 2 to 3 years of age, all primary teeth should have erupted.

  • Shortly after age 4, the jaw and facial bones of the child begin to grow, creating spaces between the primary teeth. This is a perfectly natural growth process that provides the necessary space for the larger permanent teeth to emerge. Between the ages of 6 and 12, a mixture of both primary teeth and permanent teeth reside in the mouth.

Some Tips For Healthy Teeth            

  • As soon as you start your baby on solids, try to encourage a liking for savoury, rather than sweet tastes.

  • Introduce brushing when the first teeth erupt.  Use a pea size amount of tooth paste.

  • Ask your dentist about fluoride vitamins, drops or  tablets.

  • Do not  let children fall asleep with a bottle in his/her  mouth.

  • Nothing but water should be in the bottle of a napping or  sleeping child.

  • Do not allow your child to walk around with a bottle/cup hanging from his mouth.  Encourage children to drink and  return the bottle or cup to you before playing.

  • Wipe off or brush the teeth after nursing or bottle feeding.

  • Breast milk contains natural sugars.

  • An adult should brush a child’s teeth until the age of about 8 years.

  • If a child under the age of 6 injures a tooth, contact the dentist as soon as possible to determine if treatment is necessary.  If a permanent tooth is knocked out or damaged seek dental help immediately.  Treatment within half an hour to an hour can reduce the chances of losing a permanent

  • tooth.

  • Never place knocked out permanent teeth in water.  Place  them in milk only.

  • Never clean off or rinse the damaged tooth.  See your dentist immediately.

  • Reduce the amount of sugary food or drinks you give your child and limit these to meal times.

  • Read labels carefully. Sugar may be listed as glucose, sucrose, honey, dextrose, maltose, fructose, hydrolysed starch or syrup. Remember that even fruit juices can cause decay. 

  • Every time even small amounts of sugar are consumed, the acid level in the mouth falls to a level where it can cause dental decay for about half an hour. For this reason, you should wait for at least half an hour after eating something sweet or acid before brushing since the teeth are weakened and brushing 'scours' the surface of the enamel.

  • Use stickers, comics, crayons, hair slides, etc, as treats instead of sweets or biscuits.

  • Only give water or plain milk in a bottle. Juices should be diluted and given in a cup.

  • Do not put anything sweet on comforters.


Caring For Your Child's Teeth

Experts recommend that your child's dental care start at 12 months of age.

Babies with dental problems caused by injury, disease, or a developmental problem should be seen by a dentist ASAP.

  • It's best to start good oral health habits before permanent teeth come in.

  • Avoid sharing spoons, forks, and other utensils with babies. The saliva you may leave on the utensil contains bacteria that can cause tooth decay. Sometimes, kissing can also transfer bacteria. You can help prevent early childhood tooth decay in your child by making sure that your family practices good dental health habits.

  • Do not put your infant or small child to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice, or other product that contains sugar. The sugar and acids in these liquids can cause tooth decay. Do not prop the bottle up in your baby's mouth. Remove the bottle as soon as your baby is done feeding or is asleep.​

  • Breast-feeding your infant to sleep is safe.

  • Encourage your baby to begin drinking from a cup at about 4 to 6 months of age.

  • Discuss your child's fluoride needs with your dentist.Too much fluoride can be toxic and can stain a child’s teeth.

  • Give your child nutritious foods to maintain healthy gums, develop strong teeth, and avoid tooth decay. These include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Try to avoid foods that are high in sugar and processed carbohydrates, such as pastries, pasta, and white bread.

  • Do not give your child mouthwashes that contain alcohol. If your child age 6 or older has cavities, ask the dentist if your child should try mouthwash that contains fluoride. But watch to make sure your child does not swallow it.

  • Keep your child away from cigarette smoke. Tobacco smoke may contribute to the development of tooth decay, gum disease, and other health issues.  As your child grows, teach him or her about the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke.

  • Children play hard, sometimes hard enough to knock out or break a tooth. Learn how to prevent injuries to teeth and what to do in a dental emergency.

  • If your child sucks his or her fingers or thumb, help your child to stop. If the child can't stop, see your dentist.

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