Mixed Dentition

Dr. Kelly Jobe | Pediatric Dentist | St. Louis, MO

Mixed Dentition

As a parent, you probably have a lot of questions about what teeth will come in for your child, and at what age. You want to know if your child’s baby teeth are falling out, and their adult teeth are coming in, at the right time. And, you want their adult teeth to erupt in the right place!

When your child has a mix of baby and adult teeth, we dentists call this period mixed dentition. This rotation of baby and adult teeth generally happens from age 6 (when their permanent “6 year molars” come in) to around age 13 (when their last baby teeth fall out). Every child is different, so they may have teeth fall out or erupt at different times. And that’s ok!

This period is crucial for your child’s oral health! Here are a few reasons why:

  • Baby teeth are more prone to tooth decay than adult teeth
  • If baby teeth fall out prematurely, that can cause adult teeth to come in at the wrong place or angle
  • Gaps in teeth can make it more difficult for children to chew or brush thoroughly

During mixed dentition, your child will have 20 baby (primary) teeth erupt, which will be replaced by 32 adult (permanent) teeth. That’s a lot of traffic happening in a 6-7 year period! They also don’t rotate in a perfect front-to-back order, so that can make parents wonder if something is wrong. 

In the beginning of this period, your child will have more baby teeth than adult teeth. But for a majority of the time, there should be an equal mix of 12 baby teeth and 12 adult teeth at any given moment. You can tell them apart because adult teeth are yellower, bigger and less smooth than baby teeth.

Boy with loose tooth
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Baby & adult teeth timeline

Here is a handy timeline of when your child’s permanent teeth are likely to erupt:

  • Central Incisor: 6 to 8 years
  • Lateral Incisor: 6.5 to 9 years
  • Canine: 8.5 to 12.5 years
  • First Premolar: 8 to 12 years
  • Second Premolar: 8.5 to 13 years
  • First Molar: 5 to 7 years
  • Second Molar: 10 to 14 years
  • Third Molar (Wisdom tooth): 17 to 25 years

Your child will lose their first baby tooth around age 6, then lose eight (yes, eight!) teeth in the next two years after that. Then you can both breathe for a bit until around age 10 when more baby teeth will fall out, with all remaining baby teeth falling out by age 13 or so. Kids lose and get teeth at different ages. Girls usually start younger than boys. Even identical twins will lose teeth at different times. The sequence of losing teeth is much more important than when it happens.

Hopefully it eases some of your anxiety to know that for the most part, your child’s teeth will fall out and come in on their own. Usually you won’t need to worry about pulling out loose teeth, for instance. A little wiggle or two, but that’s it!

How to help mixed dentition go smoothly

All of that being said, there are a few things you can do to make sure your child’s teeth erupt when they’re supposed to. This includes the basic essentials of brushing twice a day, flossing and a nutritious diet. We also recommend using a fluoride toothpaste to remineralize your child’s teeth, repair any cavities that are just forming, and prevent future tooth decay.

It is also critical that you bring your child in for regular cleanings every 6 months, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). This gives us the chance to:

  • Give your child a thorough examination
  • Make sure their teeth are erupting when and how they’re supposed to
  • Perform fluoride treatments which treat and prevent cavities (and are recommended 2 to 4 times a year)

If your child’s bite is getting misaligned, or a tooth is having trouble erupting because it’s getting overcrowded (impacted), or a baby tooth is in danger of falling out too soon, we can catch it and perform procedures to fix the problem. 

Questions for Dr. Jobe or the Kids Smiles Pediatric Dentistry team?

Dr. Kelly Jobe and the team at Kids Smiles Pediatric Dentistry are committed to providing the best pediatric dental care in the greater St. Louis, MO area! Please contact us with any questions regarding your kid’s dental health, we are here to help!

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