Child’s Tooth Development

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The development of your child’s teeth is one of the most crucial parts of their health as they grow older. Make sure you understand how they develop, and what you can do to help ensure they stay on track to a healthy smile.

Baby Teeth

Baby teeth, otherwise known as primary teeth, are the first 20 teeth (ten on the top and ten on the bottom of the mouth) children grow as infants and toddlers.

Baby teeth are important for the development of your child’s mouth, general health and overall development. They are functionally important for:

  • Chewing food
  • Developing speech
  • Determining where the permanent teeth will eventually erupt
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When Do My Baby’s Teeth Start Growing?

Primary teeth are actually developing beneath the gums at birth, and will erupt into position from when they are 4 to 6 months old until they are about 2 years old. Occasionally, teeth can even be present at birth.

While some children’s teeth will erupt on this schedule, the eruption process varies among all children. Sometimes children will not start to show their primary teeth until they are up to 1-year old.

Don’t panic if your child’s teeth don’t show until a little later. There is likely nothing to worry about! We will examine your child’s tooth development process are routine dental check-ups and let you know if there is anything that is out of the ordinary.

Primary Dentition

Tooth Approx. Age at Eruption
Mandibular (*) Incisors 6-7 months
Maxillary (**) Incisors 7-9 months
Mandibular First Molars 12 months
Maxillary First Molars 14 months
Mandibular Canines 16 months
Maxillary Canines 18 months
Mandibular Second Molars 20 months
Maxillary Second Molars 24 months


*Mandibular = lower jaw
** Maxillary = upper jaw

Primary Teeth Dental Care

Baby teeth are naturally extremely white. Yellow or brown discoloration along with bright white spots are often indicators of cavities or other dental conditions. If you notice this, contact your dentist immediately.

Keeping primary teeth in place until they are all lost naturally is incredibly important to ensure proper growth and development of the permanent teeth. Routine dental care will maintain your child’s primary teeth until they are ready for natural exfoliation, which will make way for their adult teeth.

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Permanent Tooth Development and Eruption

Once your child is 6 years old, their primary incisors, or front teeth, will begin to loosen and exfoliate. As this happens, both their permanent incisors and permanent molars will begin to erupt. The incisors normally erupt between the ages of 6 and 8.

Most children will not lose any more teeth until they are 9 or 10 years old, when primary molars begin exfoliating and are replaced by the permanent premolars. The canines, or “eye teeth”, usually erupt around 11 or 12 years of age.

Permanent Dentition

Tooth Approx. Age at Eruption
Mandibular (*)Incisors 6-8 years
Maxillary (**) Incisors 7-9 years
Mandibular First Molars 6-7 years
Maxillary First Molars 6-7 years
Mandibular Canines 9-10 years
Maxillary Canines 11-12 years
Mandibular First Premolars 10-12 years
Maxillary First Premolars 10-11 years
Mandibular Second Premolars 11-12 years
Maxillary Second Premolars 10-12 years
Mandibular Second Molars 11-13 years
Maxillary Second Molars 12-13 years
Mandibular Third Molars unpredictable
Maxillary Third Molars unpredictable


*Mandibular = lower jaw
** Maxillary = upper jaw

Wisdom Teeth

The last teeth to develop will be your child’s wisdom teeth, otherwise known as their third molars. This can happen as early as age 14 or 15 with some patients, though many people will not experience this stage until they’re into their twenties. It is not uncommon for these teeth to be missing or positioned in such a way that they are unable to naturally erupt into position.

When these teeth are in a position that may cause damage to the adjacent teeth or become a site for infection to develop they need to be extracted. We’ll monitor the growth of these teeth closely to ensure you child’s mouth develops as it should.

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What Can I Do To Help?

Oral Hygiene

The oral hygiene of your child during the development of their teeth will help set the course for their smile’s future.

This is particularly true during the time of mixed dentition, or when both primary and permanent teeth coexist in your child’s mouth. Make sure to pay extra close attention to their oral hygiene during this time to ensure all of their teeth are clean!

Regular Dental Appointments

During this period of mixed dentition, routine dental care and cleanings will ensure proper development of your child’s permanent teeth and supporting structures.

Routine care will catch any development issues for the permanent teeth such as insufficient space for them to erupt into their correct position leaving them crooked or out of line. We’ll monitor this closely and recommend orthodontic treatment if it’s appropriate for your child.

We offer the following services and more to children at our Charlottesville dentist office:

Dental Exams

We’ll develop a unique treatment plan with you to ensure your child’s teeth develop in a healthy, natural way.

Our dental exams include:

  • Orthodontic assessments
  • Dental x-rays
  • Disease, infection, gum disease, and tooth decay evaluation

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Dental Cleanings

Brushing and flossing alone won’t be enough for the proper development of your child’s teeth. We always recommend two regular dental cleanings a year.

During your child’s dental cleaning, we’ll:

  • Remove all plaque deposits
  • Polish and remove stains and rough areas

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Restorative Care

Even if your child brushes and flosses everyday through their childhood, tooth decay can still develop later on. We’ll help restore your child’s bright smile! Our restorative care services include:

Our restorative care services include:

  • Composite & amalgam fillings
  • Crowns & bridges
  • Other minimally-invasive treatment options

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Ongoing Care & Maintenance

The earlier we identify issues with the growth of your child’s teeth, the more effective our treatment will be.

Our ongoing care plan includes…

  • Regular cleanings and exams
  • Dental x-rays
  • Fluoride treatments
  • Consultations with our experienced medicaid dentists

Learn More

Call Children’s Dentistry of Charlottesville at (434) 817-1817 or contact us online to learn more about how we can help your child.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you accept insurance or Medicaid?

Yes! We accept Medicaid and many other insurance plans, including those from:

  • Guardian
  • Metlife
  • Cigna
  • United Concordia
  • Delta Dental
  • Anthem

Are you a dentist who works with special needs children?

Of course! Generally, we can perform basic dental exams for children with special needs. Our whole team has experience working with children with special needs, including those with Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, and dental anxiety.

We’re committed to making sure your child gets the care they need and deserve. Questions or concerns regarding your special needs child’s dental care? Don’t hesitate to give us a call!

How often do children need a dental exam?

Children should always receive two dental exams a year. For some patients, additional exams could be helpful for more extensive dental treatment.

What should I look for between dental exams?

Most issues will generally be caught with two yearly dental exams. Still, you should look out for some things in-between appointments. These include:

  • Temperature sensitivity in the teeth
  • Gums that are swollen or bleeding
  • Damage to fillings, crowns, or other dental restorations
  • Mouth pain, including teeth, tongue, or jaw pain
  • Difficulty while chewing or swallowing
  • Continuous bad breath even with brushing and flossing

If your child is experiencing any of these, contact us to see if you should schedule an additional exam.

Ready to Schedule an Appointment?

Call (434) 234-4082 today

Contact Us Online

Reference Material
Text: Pediatric Dentistry: Infancy Through Adolescence 4th Edition
Authors: Pinkham, Casamassimo, Fields, McTigue, Nowak
Publisher: El Savier Saunders
Year Published: 2005