Everything you need to know about your child’s smile development

Your little one’s teeth will change a lot over the course of their childhood. From their first baby tooth to a full set of gnashers, here are the major milestones to look out for.

Dad tickling happy baby laying on bed

The first year

Just like walking and talking, each child’s teeth will develop at a different rate. We’ve outlined the average times that children tend to reach these milestones, but don’t worry if it’s a little earlier or later for your child. That’s perfectly normal.

Five months: welcome to teething

Around this time, you’ll start to notice the first signs that teeth are well on their way. Your baby’s gums may be visibly swollen and red – particularly where their first teeth are about to push through. They’ll also start to dribble much more than usual.

Six months: baby’s first teeth

The lower central incisors (bottom middle) are usually the first teeth to make an appearance. Your little one will most likely need more comforting than usual as teeth start to push through. It’s also time to start gently brushing twice a day.

Seven+ months: more incisors arrive

Your baby’s bottom set of central incisors are normally quickly followed by the corresponding top pair. Before your baby’s first birthday you’ll also usually start to see the next teeth along – lateral incisors – arriving in pairs.

As more teeth grow, you’ll be able to start using a small amount of toothpaste when brushing. You’ll also want to take your baby for their first dental check-up. This will usually be before they turn one.

Happy mum carrying smiling toddler on back in park

Toddler and pre-school

Once the first teeth are through, it’s a case of waiting for the rest to get there. Keep brushing their teeth and go for regular check-ups to make sure your toddler’s teeth stay healthy as they develop.

14 to 18 months: molar and canine time

Around now, your little one will start to get their first back teeth. These are called the first molars and are the second biggest of all the baby teeth. Following that, the four sharp, pointed canines take their place in the row of front teeth.

Two to three years: a complete set

By the time your little one turns three, their smile should be just about complete. The last – and biggest – teeth to arrive are the second molars. With a full set of teeth to look after, regular check-ups and brushing are more important than ever before. Keep up the good work.

Four years: making room

All 20 baby teeth are now in place. But over the coming years your child’s jaw will continue to grow to make room for the 32 permanent adult teeth that will start to come through around the age of seven or eight.

Family of four laughing

Primary school

As your child goes through primary school, they’ll start to make the change from baby to adult teeth. Stay on top of brushing to keep all their new teeth healthy, and you can make a trip to the orthodontist to check how neatly their teeth are coming through.

Six to seven years: from wobbles to gaps

The Tooth Fairy is about to get seriously busy. With adult teeth starting to push through the gum line, chances are your child's first wobbly tooth is just around the corner. The first tooth to go will usually be in the front of the bottom row.

The first adult teeth to arrive will be the molars, which will appear behind your child’s existing teeth. Then as more baby teeth fall out, other adult teeth will fill the gaps.

Seven years:

You can make your first orthodontist trip as early as age seven. At this age, teeth are still developing, and the jaw is still growing, so it may be easier to address problems like crowding early on.

11+ years:

By the time they’re a teenager, your child will likely have almost all their adult teeth. After that, their wisdom teeth may come through from about the age of 17, if they come through at all.

Interested in learning more about your child’s specific development stage? Read our handy guides below outlining each stage in more detail, from pregnancy to primary school and beyond.

Advice and inspiration for every stage of childhood

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Bupa Dental Care is a trading name of Oasis Dental Care Limited. Registered in England and Wales No: 00478127. Registered office: Bupa Dental Care, Vantage Office Park, Old Gloucester Road, Hambrook, Bristol, United Kingdom BS16 1GW.

Oasis Dental Care Limited has a number of trading names including Bupa Dental Care. For a list of all our different trading names please follow this link.

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