Eventually, your little one’s baby teeth will wibble, wobble and fall out to make space for their adult teeth. So, why are baby teeth important? To understand, we explain their role and how to care for them.

A tooth timeline

Every child’s growth is unique to them, so it’s impossible to know exactly how and when their teeth will develop. But on average, parents and carers can expect the following tooth milestones.


Your baby’s first set of primary teeth begin developing in the womb. By the time they’re born, they have a full set of 20 teeth buds, hidden under their gums. 

Infants and toddlers

We all know what comes next: teething! By 12 months, your little one is likely to have cut their first tooth (or more). By the age of three, they’re likely to have their first full set of milky whites. 

Children and teens

On average, young children lose their first baby tooth by the age of six. However, it’s not uncommon for this to happen a couple of years earlier or later. Children’s first and second permanent molars come through around the ages of six and 13.


When children’s primary teeth fall out, their permanent adult (or secondary) teeth fill that gap. The average 21-year-old has 32 permanent teeth, including wisdom teeth (although not everyone develops their third set of molars). 

The role of baby teeth

The health of your child’s primary teeth can make all the difference for the health of their future adult teeth. By caring for and cleaning their baby teeth early on, you can help to ensure that:

  • your child can chew food and speak properly.
  • their baby teeth reserve healthy gum space for future adult teeth.
  • you encourage excellent dental hygiene habits from a young age.
  • you reduce the risk of baby tooth decay, which can cause illness, pain and lack of sleep.
  • you reduce the risk of future teeth spacing problems due to severe tooth decay and loss.


8 ways to care for your little one’s teeth

  1. From birth, clean your baby’s mouth and gums regularly, wiping with a soft cloth.
  2. When they cut their first tooth, begin brushing twice daily with plain water and a soft toothbrush.
  3. At 12 months, it’s time for their first dental checkup.
  4. By 18 months, you can add a pea-size amount of children’s fluoride toothpaste to their toothbrush. After brushing, encourage them to spit, not swallow, the toothpaste.
  5. By two-and-a-half years, you can introduce flossing between any teeth that touch. 
  6. At four or five years, you can teach your child to brush their teeth by themselves.
  7. At six years of age, your child can swap to adult toothpaste and they can learn how to floss their own teeth.
  8. By the age of eight, your child can begin brushing and flossing unsupervised. 


We’re here for healthy, happy smiles

Time to book in a dentist appointment? Our friendly and experienced team knows how to make the dentist trip comfortable, enjoyable and engaging for little ones (and adults, too!). 

Learn more about Children’s Dentistry or get in touch with our team today.