Worrying that your children's teeth aren't falling out on time is a common concern for many parents. In this post, our BC and Alberta orthodontists discuss which order of losing teeth most children follow and what types of problems to watch for.
Which order of teeth falling out is normal?
Like any other milestone, watching your child reach the age where they start to lose their baby teeth can feel momentous - and maybe a little anxiety-inducing. After all, you may wonder if those teeth are falling out on time, and in the correct order. We'll provide some answers and hopefully help set your mind at ease in this post.
Primary Teeth Emerge: 6 months to 3 Years
A child's first baby teeth (also known as the primary teeth or central lower incisors) usually emerge around the age of 6 months. The second primary molars are the last baby teeth to appear, between 30 to 36 months of age. Normally, 20 baby teeth will have erupted by the time a child reaches 3 years old. These primary teeth then remain unchanged for about 3 years.
First Primary Teeth Lost: Ages 6 to 8
You'll likely see some gaps in your child's smile between these ages as it's normal for them to lose 8 primary (upper and lower front) teeth in rapid succession during this phase of development.
There are always exceptions to every rule, but tooth loss typically kicks off with the lower central incisors before the upper central incisors. Between 7 and 8 years old, most kids lose their upper and lower lateral incisors. The 8 permanent incisors should all be in place by age 8.
Last Primary Teeth Lost: Ages 10 to 12
While not much happens in the tooth loss department between the ages of 8 and 10, children typically lose their last 12 primary teeth during their pre-teen years - between the ages of 10 and 12.
The lower canines and upper first molars are the next to go, followed by the lower first molars around age 11. A child will usually lose their lower second molars around the same time as their upper canines and second molars, at about 12 years old.
Remember: Some Variation is Normal
Of course, not every child will follow the exact path above when it comes to the sequence of their teeth falling out. This order may vary slightly from the details above, but there's no need to become concerned if it's within a range - some children will lose teeth faster, while others will lose them slower.
For example, it's not unusual for a 10-year-old to have already lost all of their baby teeth, or for a few to still be in your 14-year-olds mouth. The actual cause for concern occurs when certain patterns deviate too far from what's considered "normal" for a child's age and stage of development.
Potential Problems with Tooth Loss
If a child loses baby teeth out of order, or if a tooth is lost and more than three months elapse without a permanent replacement coming in, there may be an orthodontic problem worth having assessed.
These issues may include:
- Crowded teeth
- Missing teeth
- Issues with the mechanisms of tooth loss
- Crooked underlying tooth not pushing out a primary tooth.
Orthodontic Treatment Options at myORTHODONTIST
Your orthodontist in BC and Alberta can check for each of these issues during an orthodontic evaluation. The Canadian Association of Orthodontists recommend that every child see an orthodontist before age 7 for an initial assessment.
At myORTHODONTIST, we take a preventive 2-Phase approach to orthodontic treatment. The first phase would typically be implemented when children are between the ages of 5 and 11 and can reduce the need for more invasive treatment in the future.
This is because orthodontic or airway issues can cause or be related to snowing, eating problems, teeth grinding, speech issues and more. There's a popular myth out there that a child's permanent adult teeth must erupt before orthodontic treatment can begin.
However, by assessing your child and catching issues that may be developing early on, we can take advantage of natural growth patterns of a child's jaws and palate to ease the way for healthier development. The earlier orthodontic issues can be addressed with early intervention and treatment measures such as palate expansion, braces or Invisalign first,, the better our chances of achieving positive outcomes for oral and overall health.
The second phase of treatment involves fine-tuning your child's smile as they reach their teenage years. Because we would have dealt with jaw development and functionality issues in Phase 1, Phase 2 is often shorter (6 to 12 months) and simpler. Depending on individual factors and treatment goals, this could mean treatment with braces or Invisalign clear aligners to adjust the bite.