How Many Teeth Do We Have – A Guide to Children’s Teeth Development


Teeth Development – Baby/Milk Teeth

A baby’s primary teeth start to appear between 6 and 9 months of age. Teething usually commences at around 5-6 months, but it can be as early as 3 months and as late as 12.

By the age of 3 they should have 20 primary teeth, ten on the top and ten on the bottom. Baby (deciduous) teeth play an important role in helping your child bite and chew food and in their speech formation. They are also placeholders for the adult teeth which will move into place when the baby teeth fall out. That’s the reason why it is important that they are taken care of for healthy teeth development, even though baby teeth are destined to fall out.  Good oral hygiene and brushing habits need to start early for this reason.

Caring for Baby Teeth

It is recommended that between birth and 12 months, you gently wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, damp baby washcloth/gauze after breakfast and after their last feed of the night to remove any bacteria that can lead to dental decay. Never put a baby to sleep with a bottle as the milk on the teeth/gums at night also causes dental decay. From 12-24 months you should clean your baby’s teeth with a child size toothbrush.  Unless your dentist has specifically said otherwise, do not use fluoride toothpaste yet as they do not have the ability yet to spit properly and could ingest too much toothpaste.

Teeth Development – Adult/Permanent Teeth

At about age six most children start losing their baby teeth as their adult teeth emerge. This process will usually continue into their early teenage years.  Adults usually develop 32 teeth, comprised of 8 incisors, 4 canines, 8 premolars and 12 molars which include the wisdom teeth, otherwise known as third molars.  The wisdom teeth are often extracted in teens, or later years, when spacing can be an issue with impacted teeth.

Dental Care for Permanent Teeth

Regular dental visits are important through a child’s development.  In the early years, the dentist will be looking to prevent tooth decay or, if necessary, treat decay before extraction becomes necessary.  Nearing their teens the dentist will be able to identify whether there are bite issues and whether orthodontics will be necessary.  Very often early intervention can prevent expensive orthodontic work in the teenage years.

Keep those visits regular and hopefully children will have 20 teeth and adults 32 teeth and a good healthy, happy smile!