Tooth Eruption and Exfoliation
At approximately 6 months of age, your baby’s first teeth will come into the mouth. This process is called “tooth eruption.” The first teeth to erupt are usually the lower two front teeth. The upper two front teeth follow. The lower two lateral incisors, which are on either side of the two central teeth, usually come next. Then the upper laterals erupt. Your child’s top and bottom first baby molars come next, followed by the canines. These pointed teeth actually erupt in front of the molars, even though the molars appear in the mouth before the canines. The last baby teeth to erupt are the second molars, which are the furthest teeth back in the mouth. All 20 baby teeth are usually in the mouth between 2-1/2 to 3 years of age.
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Children begin losing their baby teeth around age 6, which is also the age when the first permanent teeth begin to erupt. The first permanent teeth to erupt are usually the first permanent molars. These are sometimes called 6-year molars! No baby tooth is lost for this adult tooth to erupt. When baby teeth wiggle out, it is called “tooth exfoliation.”
Kids go through two stages of baby tooth loss. The four front top and four front bottom teeth are lost between 6 to 9 years of age. There is then approximately a two year span when sometimes no teeth fall out! The remaining twelve baby teeth fall out between the ages of 9 to 12. Some of the permanent teeth replace baby teeth and some don’t. Don’t worry if some teeth are a few months early or late falling out or coming in as all children are different!
Baby teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they give children their unique and delightful smile, they are essential for proper chewing, biting, and speech. Baby teeth also hold space for the permanent teeth that will eventually replace them.
Keeping baby teeth healthy and cavity-free with proper daily oral hygiene and a good diet is extremely important. Bacteria that cause cavities can start attacking the teeth at a very early age. Therefore, it is essential that your baby be seen by a pediatric dentist by his or her first birthday!