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Updated on September 14, 2022

Deciduous (Baby Teeth) vs. Permanent Teeth

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What are Deciduous Teeth?

Deciduous teeth are the first set of teeth to erupt in the mouth. They eventually fall out, and permanent teeth replace them. They are also known as primary or baby teeth because they typically erupt between 6 months and 3 years of age. 

While they might seem unimportant, deciduous teeth help children learn how to chew, smile, and speak. They also create a pathway for permanent teeth to erupt.

mother and daughter baby girl brushing their teeth together

Deciduous Teeth vs. Permanent Teeth

Compared to permanent teeth, deciduous teeth are rounder and whiter. There are also only 20 deciduous teeth but 32 permanent teeth. 

As the permanent teeth develop under the deciduous teeth, they grow upwards and resorb, or eat away, the tooth roots of the baby teeth. As the deciduous teeth roots resorb with time, they become loose and eventually fall out.

When Do Baby Teeth Erupt and Fall Out?

Everyone develops differently. But baby teeth often erupt at around 6 months and start to fall out around age 6.

Not all baby teeth erupt or fall out at the same time. And females tend to have their baby teeth erupt sooner than males.

Common timelines for the eruption and falling out of the lower set of baby teeth are:

  • Central incisor — Erupt 6 to 10 months; fall out 6 to 7 years
  • Lateral incisor — Erupt 10 to 16 months; fall out 7 to 8 years
  • First molar — Erupt 14 to 18 months; fall out 9 to 11 years
  • Canine teeth — Erupt 17 to 23 months; fall out 9 to 12 years
  • Second molar — Erupt 23 to 31 months; fall out 10 to 12 years

Common times for the eruption and falling out of the upper set of baby teeth are:

  • Central incisor — Erupt 8 to 12 months; fall out 6 to 7 years
  • Lateral incisor — Erupt 9 to 13 months; fall out 7 to 8 years
  • First molar — Erupt 13 to 19 months; fall out 9 to 11 years
  • Canine teeth — Erupt 16 to 22 months; fall out 10 to 12 years
  • Second molar — Erupt 25 to 33 months; fall out 10 to 12 years

Taking Care of Baby Teeth

Care for baby teeth varies by age and stage of development.

For infants, gently clean the gums using a soft, wet cloth at least once daily. Once a child’s first baby teeth erupt, brush their teeth twice daily. Use a rice amount of fluoridated toothpaste on a small-headed, soft-bristled toothbrush.

If babies are uncomfortable when their deciduous teeth erupt, rub a cool spoon or cloth on their gums or give them a clean, frozen teething ring.

For children ages 3 to 6, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste to brush the teeth. An adult should always help children brush their teeth because they cannot do so effectively on their own.

It’s best to take infants for a pediatric dental check-up when their first baby tooth appears and every 6 months. If a baby develops pain, see a general or pediatric dentist as soon as possible.

You can rinse the affected area with salt water if the gums are irritated as the baby teeth erupt or fall out. You can also apply a cold compress to the area and give them Children’s Tylenol.

What are Retained Baby Teeth? 

While baby teeth are meant to fall out at certain ages, sometimes they do not fall out on their own. This can cause several complications, such as:

  • Infraocclusion, where one tooth is unable to fully contact the surface of another matching tooth when biting
  • Traumatic occlusion, or a misaligned bite
  • Diastema, or a gap between two teeth
  • Pain or discomfort 

If a child retains a baby tooth, a dentist may extract or recontour it, so it does not interfere with the bite. 

When Do Permanent Teeth Erupt?

Some permanent teeth may erupt around 6 to 7 years of age.

Common timelines for the eruption of permanent teeth are:

  • First molars — 6 to 7 years
  • Central incisors — 6 to 8 years
  • Lateral incisors — 7 to 9 years
  • Canines — 9 to 12 years
  • First premolars — 10 to 12 years
  • Second premolars — 10 to 12 years
  • Second molars — 11 to 13 years
  • Third molars (wisdom teeth) — 17 to 21 years

Taking Care of Permanent Teeth

Practicing good oral hygiene is crucial to maintain good oral and overall health. This involves:

  • Brushing teeth at least twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste
  • Rinsing out the mouth with plain water after eating or drinking
  • Limiting consumption of sticky or sugary foods and drinks
  • Limiting alcohol consumption
  • Avoiding tobacco products
  • Flossing or cleaning between the teeth at least once daily

Summary

Deciduous teeth, or baby teeth, are the first teeth to develop. For most children, baby teeth emerge around 6 months and fall out around 6 years.

Baby teeth help children learn to eat and talk properly. Deciduous teeth also lay the foundation for permanent teeth to erupt and form properly.

Talk to a dentist or doctor if a child’s baby teeth do not erupt properly or if they do not eventually fall out. Seek medical attention as soon as possible if a baby’s teeth or gums appear infected.

4 Sources Cited
Last updated on September 14, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. American Pediatric Dentists. “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).www.aapd.org, n.d
  2. Consolaro, Alberto. “Should deciduous teeth be preserved in adult patients? How about stem cells? Is it reasonable to preserve them?” Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics, 2016.
  3. Mouth Healthy. “Baby teeth.www.mouthhealthy.org, n.d.
  4. Mouth Healthy. “Your baby’s first dental visit.” www.mouthhealthy.org, n.d.
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