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Teeth - development and teething

tooth; teeth; teething; development; ;

How you look after your child's teeth from the time they are babies will make a difference to how they grow and how healthy they are. This means not only how you clean teeth but also how you protect them from things that can harm teeth.

Tooth decay is preventable.

When teeth come through

  • The time when teeth appear varies from child to child.
  • Occasionally babies are born with a tooth, but these early teeth are usually lost soon after birth.
  • Usually the first tooth appears between 6 to 10 months, but a few babies have no teeth until 12 months or more.
  • The lower two front teeth usually come through before the upper ones.
  • The teeth usually come through in pairs - one on the right, one on the left side.
  • By about 2½ to 3 years, all 20 baby teeth have come through.
  • The first permanent teeth (molars in both jaws and the central (incisor) teeth in the lower jaw) begin to come through when a child is about 6.
  • By 12 to 13 years, most children have 28 permanent teeth. The last 4 molars ('wisdom teeth') usually come through between 17 and 21 years.


  • Teething is natural. A lot of research has been done which shows that babies are not more irritable or unwell when teeth come through.
  • Despite this, many people, including parents and doctors, believe babies are in pain, irritable, have sleep problems, and get snuffly around the time they get new teeth.
  • If your baby seems to have the problems that are often called "teething problems", the problems are real, but may not be caused by teething.
  • When a new tooth is moving up through the jaw into the mouth, the gums might look red and swollen. We might think this causes pain, but it might not cause pain.
  • Teething gels, biting on something hard (such as a teething ring), paracetamol or ibuprofen seem to help some babies. If your baby seems distressed you could try them. 
    •  Work out the correct dose of paracetamol or ibuprofen for your baby, using information on the bottle.
    • Teething gels which do not contain salicylates are recommended as there is a theoretical risk of a serious illness called Reyes syndrome if children are given gels which contain salicylates, however no case of this illness has occurred due to teething gels. Ask your pharmacist for the best one for your baby.
  • Do not use lemon juice on your baby's gums. Lemon juice has a lot of acid and can harm new teeth by dissolving the tooth enamel.

More to read

 Raising Children Network https://raisingchildren.net.au/ (Raising Children website is produced with the help of an extensive network including the Australian Government) - has many topics on the development and care of teeth, including: 

Pregnancy, Birth and Baby Pregnancy, Birth and Baby is a national Australian Government service providing support and information for expecting parents and parents of children, from birth to 5 years of age.

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.

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