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Section Questions and Answers

Teething - Teething and Eruption

  1. What is teething?
  2. What is eruption?
  3. What are the signs of teething?
  4. How to comfort a teething baby.
  5. When do baby teeth start forming?
  6. How long does the eruption process last?
  7. What influences the final positioning of the erupting teeth?
  8. Are spaces between a baby's front teeth a cause for concern?
  9. The eruption chart for baby teeth.
  10. The calendar of tooth growth and development.

Readers are recommended to view the Eruption Chart (#9) and the Calendar of Tooth Growth and Development (#10), for a graphic illustration of the subject.

 
1. What is teething?

  • Teething is the final stage of the eruption process.
    It is during this time that the teeth of infants cut through the gum and become visible in the mouth.
  • The baby will eventually have ten teeth in each jaw, making a total of twenty teeth in the mouth.

Click to enlarge
Teething
"cutting through"
Click to enlarge
1 year later

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2. What is eruption?

  • Eruption is the process during which teeth grow through bone and push through the gum into the mouth.

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Permanent tooth
growing under baby tooth

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3. What are the signs of teething?

  • The main signs of teething are:
    • The gum over the erupting tooth can be swollen and red.
    • A spot of blood may be found where the tooth "cuts" through the gum.
    • The cheek on the side of the erupting tooth can appear flushed.
    • There may be more dribbling than usual.
    • The baby has the need to bite on a hard object.
    • General irritability.
    • Disturbed sleeping patterns.
    • Diarrhoea and fever do not necessarily accompany teething.

Click to enlarge
Red swollen gum
over erupting tooth

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4. How to comfort a teething baby

  • Gently massage the gum with a clean finger.
  • A dummy (pacifier) may have a soothing effect.
  • The baby's need to bite on something hard can be satisfied with a teething ring or a sugar-free rusk.
  • A sugar-free analgesic for babies will lessen the pain and help to settle the baby. Consult your doctor or dentist about analgesics.

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5. When do baby teeth start forming?

  • Tooth development starts between the 3rd and 6th months of pregnancy,
    • The growth of baby teeth is only completed at the age of 4, when the roots of all the erupted teeth are fully formed.
    • The crown of the tooth is the first to develop deep in the jawbone.
    • The root formation will only be completed about 18 months after eruption.
    • When the crown of a tooth erupts it is covered by a cuticle or covering that protects the enamel.
      It is slowly worn away by chewing and toothbrushing.

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6. How long does the eruption process last?

  • The eruption of teeth into the mouth occurs between 6 months and 30 months of age.
    • The first teeth to erupt are usually the lower front teeth.
    • The eruption chart shows the average age at which teeth emerge. This can vary considerably from child to child. See part 9 of this subject.
    • The calendar of tooth growth and development will reveal the miracle of tooth growth and development at different ages.

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7. What influences the final positioning of erupting teeth?

  • The final position of a tooth is largely influenced by the lips cheeks and tongue:
    • The tongue exerts an outward pressure on the teeth.
    • The lips and cheeks provide a balancing inward force.
    • When biting and chewing takes place, the opposing teeth in the other jaw prevent continued vertical growth of teeth.
  • Other influences are thumbsucking and pacifiers:
    • The outward pressure of a thumb sucking habit pushes the upper front teeth and jaw forward and out of alignment.
    • The extended use of pacifiers or dummies can have the same effect.

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8. Are spaces between a baby's front teeth a cause for concern?

  • It is normal for the front teeth of babies to have spaces between them.
    • It is also normal for the front teeth not to be spaced.
    • Both of these tooth formations are considered to be satisfactory.
    • Spaces between the baby teeth do not necessarily result in the spacing of permanent teeth.

Click to enlarge
Tooth spacing

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9. The Eruption Chart for Baby Teeth

UPPER TEETH

TOOTHDENTAL NAME ERUPTION AGE ROOT FULLY FORMED
A CENTRAL INCISOR 7-9 MONTHS 20-22 MONTHS
B LATERAL INCISOR 7-9 MONTHS 20-22 MONTHS
C CANINE 17-22 MONTHS 30-35 MONTHS
D FIRST MOLAR 12-17 MONTHS 27-32 MONTHS
E SECOND MOLAR 24-33 MONTHS 38-48 MONTHS

UPPER TEETH
Click to enlarge

LOWER TEETH
Click to enlarge

LOWER TEETH

TOOTHDENTAL NAME ERUPTION AGE ROOT FULLY FORMED
A CENTRAL INCISOR 6-8 MONTHS 18-20 MONTHS
B LATERAL INCISOR 7-9 MONTHS 20-22 MONTHS
C CANINE 17-22 MONTHS 30-35 MONTHS
D FIRST MOLAR 12-17 MONTHS 27-32 MONTHS
E SECOND MOLAR 24-36 MONTHS 38-48 MONTHS

TOOTH GROWTH IS ONLY COMPLETE AFTER THE ROOT IS FULLY FORMED

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10. The Calendar of Tooth Growth and Development

  • The calendar shows the stages of development of baby and permanent teeth from the age of 5 months in the womb to 6 years.
  • The permanent teeth are made to appear darker than the baby teeth.
  • The growth patterns are clearly shown. The crowns of teeth are the first to form, followed by the roots.
  • The growth and replacement of teeth is well illustrated. The mixed dentition stage reveals the way baby teeth make space for the permanent teeth to grow into.

Click to enlarge
Top: 5 Months in utero
Bottom: 7 Months in utero
Click to enlarge
Top: at birth
Bottom: 6 Months
Click to enlarge
9 Months
Click to enlarge
1 Year
Click to enlarge
18 Months
Click to enlarge
2 Years
Click to enlarge
3 Years
Click to enlarge
4 Years
Click to enlarge
5 Years
Click to enlarge
6 Years

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See calendar of tooth growth in adults section

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