Primary teeth, also known as deciduous teeth, milk teeth, or baby teeth, are a set of 20 teeth that children have before “shedding” them and getting their permanent adult teeth.
Did you know that these baby teeth start forming even before birth? In fact, some babies are born with some teeth that have already broken through the gum! (Can you imagine?!) But for most children, their baby teeth will start making their debut sometime in the first year of life.
When do babies start teething?
Many parents are wondering: When will my child get his/her first tooth? After all, it’s an exciting milestone! And proof that they are healthy and growing. But just like with starting to eat solids, or when they are ready for potty training, the age can vary from child to child. Some children will be closer to their first birthday before they get their first tooth—for example, my kids were 9 and 10 months when they got their first baby teeth. But the typical age for a first tooth is around 6 months.
From birth, baby already has all of his teeth hanging out underneath the gums, just waiting to emerge. The time that they choose to come through varies from baby to baby, but teeth almost always follow a pattern of which tooth comes first, next, and so on… all the way up to the last. The emergence of teeth is usually symmetrical as well, meaning that both front teeth (central incisors) will come in before the next set of two (lateral incisors), and so on. See the chart below for a good visual.
How long does it take for all 20 baby teeth to come in?
Some babies will get many teeth quickly, one right after the other, which makes for a stressful and sleepless week or two. Others will get them gradually so that the teething is drawn out over a longer period—but is typically more bearable for all. Whether your baby is a quick teether or a gradual teether, it still usually takes until sometime in the second year of life to get their final molars. Most children will have all 20 primary teeth by the time they are 3 years old.
Help! My baby isn’t getting his teeth on schedule!
Throw the guidelines out. Stop comparing with your friend’s baby, and trust that your child will get her teeth when it’s the right time for her. In almost all cases, babies—even slow or super fast teethers—are perfectly healthy, and there is no need to worry if they don’t fall within the “schedule.” Of course, always talk to your child’s pediatrician if you are concerned or want more information.
What types of teeth are there? Baby teeth order
Children have fewer teeth than adults (children have 20; adults have 32). Children have the following teeth, which also typically come in this order (again, there are always exceptions):
- Central Incisors (the two front teeth)
- Lateral Incisors (the teeth just to the left and right of the two front)
- First Molars
- Second Molars
Baby Teeth Chart
Some babies have a terrible time with just one tooth coming in, while others don’t seem to be bothered at all, despite having two molars breaking through. What gives?! Children have varying levels of pain tolerance and sensitivity, so you’ll have to just watch and care for your little one as appropriate for his or her situation.
For those children who do seem to be sensitive to teething pain, it can start as early as 2–3 months before the first tooth appears. (So, if you do the math, babies can technically start teething as early as 2–3 months!) The key is to start soothing their discomfort right away so that you can get ahead of the pain.
Teething baby symptoms include:
- Biting more than usual
- Excessive drool
- Fussier than usual, especially at night
- Disturbances in sleep patterns
- Fever, rashes, cough, and diarrhea
- Decreased appetite
- Pulling of ears and rubbing of chin and cheeks
- Swollen and inflamed gums
- Small white teeth popping through the gums (this one’s a tell-tale sign of course!)
Learn more about teething symptoms here.
What can I do if my baby is miserable over teething?
You can imagine that having sharp, hard teeth emerge through delicate gums can be uncomfortable to say the least.
Here are some things you can try to sooth your little one’s pain:
I wrote a whole post with effective natural remedies for teething pain here, so be sure to check that out if your child is suffering! (I feel your pain, as my son had a hard time with teething.)
Teething will end around age 3
No matter how bad the teething or biting, remember that this process is relatively short-lived. It *will* pass, eventually (even if it feels never-ending at the time!). Most children will have all of their teeth and molars in around the age of 3. In the meantime, use effective teething remedies, and celebrate as each pearly white comes in!