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Why Do We Lose Our Baby Teeth?

Losing our baby teeth is an important milestone in any child’s development. Teeth are an integral part of our development whether we realize it or not. Our teeth are needed not only for chewing but also for speaking. They are also necessary for the growth and development of our face and jaws. They are also able to convey feelings to the outside world thru a smile.

Our teeth are so important that they start growing before we are even born into the world. They emerge quickly into your child’s mouth around the 6 month mark of life. Because of how much we need them, teeth start to grow even before we are born.

Tooth Eruption Facts

Humans have 2 sets of teeth, primary (or baby) teeth and then permanent teeth. These teeth develop in stages often overlapping timelines. The schedule is different but the development and tooth eruption of each of these sets of teeth is very much the same. Following are a few facts about the eruption of our teeth:

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Tooth eruption tends to happen in parallel. This means that the bottom premolar tooth on your left side should erupt into your mouth at about the same time as the bottom premolar tooth on the right side.

-Primary tooth development begins during the 2nd trimester of a woman’s pregnancy. Primary teeth are place holders for permanent teeth. They reserve space for our growing faces so the permanent teeth can slide right in properly when the time is right

-Loss of primary teeth due to extraction or loss of space due to breakdown of baby teeth, makes a child susceptible to malocclusion and more likely to need orthodontic treatment.

-The crown of a tooth is the first to begin forming. The roots continue to develop and lengthen even after the teeth have come through the gums.

-There are 20 primary teeth. These are usually fully erupted by age 3, and remain until around 6 years of age when they begin to fall out to make room for your permanent teeth.

-Adult teeth usually begin to erupt into the mouth between 6 and 12 years of age. Most adults have 32 permanent teeth.

-Permanent teeth are larger and take longer to erupt than primary teeth.

Types Of Teeth – Tooth Eruption

A person’s teeth will vary in size, shape, and their location. Each tooth in your mouth has a job to do and that is why it is shaped the way it is and where it is located. Tooth eruption follows a definite pattern.  There are 5 types of teeth:

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1) Incisors. Incisors are the eight teeth in the front of your mouth (four on top and four on bottom). These teeth are used to take bites of your food. Incisors are usually the first teeth to erupt. Primary incisors erupt at around 6 months of age.Permanent incisors should come in at  6 and 8 years of age.

2) Canines. We have four canines in our mouths. These are the next type of teeth to erupt. Canines are your sharpest teeth and are used for ripping and tearing food apart. Teeth eruption for primary canines usually occurs between 16 and 20 months of age, with the upper canines coming in just before  the lower canines. The order is reversed for permanent teeth. Lower canines erupt around age 9, with the uppers erupting at about 11-12 years of age.

3) Premolars. Primary molars are replaced by premolars.Premolars (also called bicuspids) are used for chewing and grinding of food. You have four premolars on each side of your mouth, two on the upper and two on the lower jaw. The first premolars appear around age 10 and the second premolars arrive about a year later. Premolars are generally the teeth that may need to be removed during orthodontic treatment to create space.

4) Molars. Primary molars (replaced by the permanent premolars) are also used for chewing and grinding food. Teeth eruption for these happens between 12 and 15 months of age. The first permanent molars erupt around 6 years of age while the second molars come in around 11-13 years old.

5) Third Molars. These are also referred to as “wisdom” teeth. These are the last teeth to erupt into the mouth and do not typically erupt until age 18-21 years of age. Some people never develop third molars at all. These molars may cause crowding and need to be removed. Other times they develop in the jaw but never erupt into the mouth. When this happens it is referred to as impacted.

Tooth Eruption Schedule

 It is important to note that every child will develop at their own pace. It is not unusual to have certain teeth erupt earlier or later than the charts below say. As long as the child is under a dentist’s care, you will be able to know any issues that might be arising based on dental examinations and dental x-rays.

Upper Primary Teeth Development

Upper TeethWhen tooth emergesWhen tooth falls out
Central incisor8 to 12 months6 to 7 years
Lateral incisor9 to 13 months7 to 8 years
Canine (cuspid)16 to 22 months10 to 12 years
First molar13 to 19 months9 to 11 years
Second molar25 to 33 months10 to 12 years

Lower Primary Teeth Development

Lower TeethWhen tooth emergesWhen tooth falls out
Second molar23 to 31 months10 to 12 years
First molar14 to 18 months9 to 11 years
Canine (cuspid)17 to 23 months9 to 12 years
Lateral incisor10 to 16 months7 to 8 years
Central incisor6 to 10 months6 to 7 years

The complete set of primary teeth is in the mouth from the age of 2 ½ to 3 years of age to 6 to 7 years of age. Dental issues which occur in development of primary teeth directly affect the development of the permanent teeth. If you do not develop a baby tooth, you consequently will not develop the replacement permanent tooth. There may also be extra teeth which may need to be removed so as not to impede eruption of the permanent counterpart. Overly small or large teeth can also cause issue. Genetics play a large role, so if you know that there are tooth issues running in your family such as missing teeth or extra teeth, have them checked out early by your dentist.

Purpose Of Primary Teeth

Primary teeth are a necessary part of a child’s development. While only in the mouth for a short period of time they are essential for the following reasons:

-They hold space for the permanent teeth.

-They give the face its normal appearance.

-Aid in speech development.

-Aid in obtaining good nutrition for growth and development.

-Teach Good Oral Hygiene. They help give a healthy start to the permanent teeth.

Primary Teeth Conclusion

The development of a child’s teeth can be confusing because all kids schedules will be quite different. The tooth eruption pattern will give clues to a child’s development and make sure things are on track. It is important to start dental care early for your child to ensure they maintain dental hygiene and keep a healthy smile for life. Losing these primary teeth before their job is done can be challenging for your child and an expensive endeavor. Remember to visit your dentist regularly for dental examinations and professional cleanings.


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