The toothless baby

Don’t panic if your baby is still a toothless wonder as he nears his first birthday – deciduous (‘primary’ or ‘milk’) teeth appear at different ages for different babies and can sometimes take quite a while to come in.

By the same token, some babies may start getting their teeth from as early as one month. This isn’t a sign of precocious development; the age range for the normal appearance of first teeth is quite large.

If, however, there’s still absolutely no sign of any teeth coming in after your baby’s first birthday, see a dentist to reassure yourself that your baby does have a full set of teeth, biding their time under his gums. In very rare instances, a medical condition such as hyperthyroidism can be at the root of very early or very late eruption of milk teeth, so get medical advice just to be sure.

The order in which the teeth come in varies from child to child, but typically, the first teeth to erupt are usually the four lower and upper incisors (the very front teeth), at anything from four to seven months. These are followed by the two upper lateral incisors and then, usually, the two lower lateral incisors. Once your baby’s teeth start coming in, they could do so at a rate of about one a month, so by the time he’s reached his first birthday, he should have about six teeth.

At around 18 months old, the four top and bottom molars (the grinding or chewing teeth) will appear; and the two pointy cuspids (the ‘canines’ or ‘eye teeth’) come next. The second set of four molars, nearer the back of the mouth, generally comes in at around 2 to 2½ years.

Most children have all their primary teeth by the time they’re 3 years old. Very occasionally a child won’t ever get a full set of baby teeth – there are 20 in all, 10 in the top jaw and 10 in the bottom – but this is rare and doesn’t necessarily mean she won’t get her full set of permanent teeth.

Your baby’s diet and general health don’t affect when his teeth come in – teeth come in according to your baby’s ‘genetic blueprint’, and will appear when they’re ready, regardless of what you give your baby to eat.

My baby was born with teeth

This does happen – about one in every 2 000 babies is born with a front ‘natal’ tooth, and some with two. Sometimes these are ‘extra’ teeth; sometimes they’re part of your baby’s set of milk teeth. Natal teeth aren’t usually a problem but can interfere with breastfeeding, so it’s best to see a paediatric dentist and get some advice. Very occasionally, a loose natal tooth may have to be removed in case it comes out and slips down the baby’s windpipe.

When did your baby start teething?

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