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The Stages of Tooth Eruption

Tooth Eruption
(Image from Clarinda Clinic)

As children, our teeth help us chew and speak properly. In the stages of tooth eruption, our first set of “baby teeth” come in around 6 months old. By age three, on average, we will have 20 primary teeth in total. As we grow, those teeth fall out in preparation for our “adult teeth,” or permanent teeth.  These permanent teeth are the teeth we will use for the rest of our lives, so starting good oral health practices early in life can be a huge benefit.


The first teeth to break through a child’s gums are usually the central incisors, or their two front teeth. These teeth erupt around 6-12 months of age, and they are primarily used to cut and tear food. These primary teeth assist children in beginning to eat larger foods. They also assist children with the pronunciation of certain sounds, such as the “th- “sound and the “t” sound. The next set of teeth to come through are the lateral incisors. Like the central incisors, these teeth are used to tear and cut food. They usually come out around 9-16 months of age on either side of the central incisors. 


The first molars are the second-to-last teeth from the back of the mouth, adjacent to the canines. They erupt at around 1- 1 ½ years old. These teeth are flatter in structure with three or four cusps, and they are primarily used to crush and breakdown food more fully. Because they do not as easily break the skin of the gums when coming out, these teeth can cause children more pain than other teeth. The second molars, the last primary teeth to erupt, serve a similar purpose to the first molars, in that they also serve to crush food when eating. 


The third set of teeth to erupt are the canines, of which there are four. These teeth are behind the lateral incisors, and they erupt at 16- 23 months old. With the longest root of all the teeth, the canines are mainly used to tear food. With one pointed cusp, these teeth are sharper than the molars and help form the corners of the mouth.

Permanent Teeth

From ages 6-12 years old, a child’s primary teeth, or “baby teeth,” begin to fall out to make room for their permanent teeth. Unlike their primary teeth, this set of pearly whites have 32 teeth instead of 20. With the addition of their First and second premolars, or bicuspids, and the third molars, or “wisdom teeth,” the full adult smile is complete.

The first set of permanent teeth to erupt are usually the bottom central incisors or the first molars on the top and bottom. Because the incisors are used to tear food, and the molar are used to crush food, having them come in around the same time allows us to continue to eat in a normal fashion as our primary teeth continue to be replaced by permanent teeth. 

The rest of the permanent teeth erupt in the following order:

  • Lateral incisors- Top and Bottom
  • Central incisor- Top
  • Canine- Bottom
  • First premolar- Top
  • Second premolar- Bottom
  • First premolar- Bottom
  • Canine-Top
  • Second molar- Bottom
  • Second molar- Top
  • Third molars- Top and Bottom 

The third molars, also known as “wisdom teeth,” are most likely to cause pain and dental issues in adults. Because these are the last teeth in the back of the mouth, the space needed for these teeth to come out properly is very crowded. Most adults have their wisdom teeth come in either crooked or impacted in a way that requires them to be taken out surgically. Luckily, this surgery is very common, and recovery is relatively short.

Our teeth allow us to chew properly, speak eloquently, and smile brightly. No matter what stage you are in your tooth erupting schedule, it is important to always practice good oral health habits as early as possible. Early intervention is key to preventing future dental issues later in life. 

If you have any questions or concerns about you or your loved one’s teeth, call the knowledgeable staff at Maestri Dental!

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