According to KidsHealth, a typical child has 20 primary, or baby, teeth and will lose them all. Every kid is unique, so the rate and age at which each tooth is lost can vary.
When Teeth Start Falling Out
By the time they reach age three, most kids have their full set of primary teeth. There are 10 teeth in the upper part of the mouth and 10 in the lower part. KidsHealth says these baby teeth start falling out around age five or six.
Tooth Loss Frequency
While each child's teeth fall out at different rates, the American Dental Association (ADA) suggests kids lose about two teeth per year between ages five and twelve. The average number can be more or less per year, depending on the child. Just as some babies' teeth erupt at different ages, some kids' teeth get pushed out later than others.
Why Teeth Fall Out
When children's teeth fall out naturally, it follows typical child development and serves an intrinsic purpose. Dr. Mohamed Abdel Hamid says there are two main reasons people have two sets of teeth. The first is that babies have smaller jaws than adults, which means their mouths simply can't hold the 32 secondary teeth needed later in life. The second reason is babies drink their mother's milk and eat soft foods, so they don't have a great need for big strong teeth to chew different tough textures.
Typical Order of Lost Teeth
Teeth typically fall out in a similar order during childhood.
- The first to go are usually the central incisors. These are the two front teeth on the top and bottom of a child's mouth.
- Lateral incisors are directly next to the two front teeth on top and bottom and fall out next.
- The second and third teeth from the back of the mouth, first molar and canine respectively, come loose around age nine or ten.
- A child's second molar is often the last one to fall out. These molars are the furthest back on both sides of the top and bottom of a kid's mouth.
How Permanent Teeth Erupt
Although most kids lose their primary teeth by age twelve, adults don't have all 32 of their permanent teeth in place until about age 21 says the ADA. Each baby tooth is pushed out by a permanent tooth erupting, but that only accounts for 20 teeth. After primaries are replaced by secondaries, bicuspids and third molars begin to emerge.
When to Worry
Because tooth development happens at an individual rate, it can be easy for parents and caregivers to worry there might be a problem. Dentists from Boise Family Dental Care share several signs you may want to have checked out by a dentist when your child is at the appropriate age to be losing teeth.
- A permanent tooth is visibly erupting in front of or behind a baby tooth, but the baby tooth is not loose at all. In this case the new tooth will erupt in the wrong position and the primary tooth may need to get pulled.
- Other permanent teeth are crowding the area a new tooth is trying to erupt through, causing it to push through incorrectly or not at all. If the permanent tooth is able to erupt, braces may be able to help correct the issue later on.
- A baby tooth has not fallen out and it is past the standard age for that tooth to fall out. This could mean the permanent tooth underneath never developed and your child may need to keep the baby tooth forever.
Call the Tooth Fairy
For many kids losing their teeth signifies growing up and maturing. These special occasions are marked with visits from the tooth fairy and trips to the dentist. Knowing what to expect in terms of tooth loss helps parents and kids be prepared for this normal stage of growth.