Primary Dentition

Primary Dentition

Eruption of primary teeth

With a few exceptions, babies are born without apparent teeth in the mouth. But this does not mean that the teeth are non-existent; the development of teeth starts inside the womb during the first weeks of life.

The eruption of the first teeth (the primary dentition) stretches over a period of around three years. Sometimes, infants have one or a few teeth at birth; we then talk about a premature eruption. This situation is not alarming, but vigilance is required to prevent injury to the tongue or the mouth.

Primary dentition: similar to the permanent dentition

The 20 primary teeth have a similar configuration to that of the permanent dentition:

  • 4 central incisors: located directly under the nose (2 at the top, 2 at the bottom).
  • 4 lateral incisors: adjacent to the central incisors.
  • 4 canines (pointed teeth).
  • 8 molars (large teeth in the rear of the mouth that are used for chewing).

Primary teeth are brighter and whiter than the permanent teeth, hence their common name “milk teeth”. This characteristic is due to the increased thickness of the enamel and the larger amount of dentin in permanent teeth.

Role of the primary dentition

  • Chewing food;
  • Speech;
  • Aesthetics: direct impact on the development of the jaws, thereby changing the shape of the face and the smile.

In addition, the primary dentition has a decisive role on the upcoming dentition since it serves as a guide in maintaining the space for the arrival of the permanent dentition.

Do not forget that some primary teeth will be present until the age of 12.

Your child’s first teeth

The development of primary teeth begins from the 6th month of life and lasts until the age of 3. Primary teeth will break through the gum surface one after another. Your child’s teeth will erupt from the center to the rear of the mouth (close to the ears), with the exception of the canines which will be preceded by the first molars.

Generally, the central incisors will first appear on the lower jaw.


Eruption chart for primary teeth

  • Central incisors: 6-8 mos.
  • Lateral incisors: 7-9 mos.
  • First molars: 12-16 mos.
  • Canines: 16-20 mos.
  • Second molars: 20-30 mos.

This calendar is only indicative and nothing is alarming if the tooth eruption happens a little later or begins earlier.

Offer them beverages to prevent dehydration

Since saliva is most abundant during tooth eruption, avoid dehydration by giving your baby something to drink regularly. If the primary dentition of your child is not completely erupted at the age of three and a half, contact your dentist.

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