Baby Teeth: What Is Too Late?

By Kristina Seleshanko
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Our teeth begin developing long before we're born, beginning at about six weeks gestation. Some babies are even born with a tooth or two. However, these can be painful and problematic, and parents should not expect their newborns to have teeth. Many parents do, however, fret about when baby teeth should appear, and then fall out.

First Tooth

While the average baby gets her first tooth between five and seven months of age, there is a wide range of what is considered normal. A few infants get their first tooth at one month of age, and other children wait until they are a year and a half old.

There is variation in which teeth come in first, also, but typically, a front, middle tooth on the bottom appears first, followed by the front, middle tooth next to it. Then the four middle teeth on the upper part of the mouth come in. Next, the four molars usually come in, followed by two bottom teeth near those that are already present. The pointed teeth appear next, typically, followed by the second molars. In total, a child should have 20 baby teeth.

Getting All Baby Teeth

According to Dr. Alan Greene, clinical professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine, an attending pediatrician at Packard Children's Hospital and pediatric expert for WebMD , "Delayed eruption of all teeth may be the result of a nutritional problem, such as rickets, or a systemic condition, such as hypopituitarism or hypothyroidism."

If your child does not have all his baby teeth by the time he's 33 months old, talk to your pediatrician to make sure there's not an underlying problem.

Losing Them

While some parents worry their baby isn't getting teeth soon enough, others worry their child isn't losing them as quickly as he should. Typically, children begin losing their baby teeth by age 6 or 7, although again, there is a wide range of what's typical. Some children lose their first tooth by age 4.

Children generally lose all their baby teeth by age 13. If your child hasn't lost all her baby teeth by this age, consult your pediatrician. (Adult molars may take until the early 20s to fully erupt.)

Most children lose their center teeth first and there should be 32 teeth when all the permanent adult teeth erupt.

Helping Teeth Along

If your child is otherwise healthy, there's nothing you can do to help her erupt or lose teeth faster.

Teething Helps

For cool relief, store-bought teethers filled with liquid can be placed in the refrigerator before use. Although frozen teethers help numb baby gums, if the baby holds the teether to his gums too long, serious frost bite damage could occur.

Popsicles or frozen fruit placed in a "Safe Feeder" make acceptable teethers, too, as do wet, cold hand towels. Simply rubbing the gums with a clean finger can also bring relief.

Tylenol can help reduce a baby's pain, and Hyland's Homeopathic Teething Tablets seem to work for some children. Benzocaine teething gels also reduce pain for a short time, but some babies hate the numb feeling they leave behind.


About the Author

Kristina Seleshanko began adult life as a professional singer and actress, working on both the West and East coasts. She regularly sang jazz in nightclubs, performed in musical theatre, and sang opera and pop. Later, Seleshanko became the author of 18 books, and has written for such publications as "Woman's Day," "Today's Christian Woman," and "True West." Seleshanko has also been a writing coach, a research librarian for "Gourmet" magazine, and a voice teacher.