Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

Baby teeth

5-minute read

Key facts

  • Baby teeth start to come through when your child is about 6 months old.
  • Most children will have all their teeth by the time they turn 3.
  • You can care for your child’s teeth by keeping them clean.

Babies are usually born with 20 baby teeth (also known as primary teeth). They start to come through the gums at about 6 months of age. This process is called teething.

By the time your baby is 2 to 3 years old, all their teeth will usually have appeared.

About baby teeth

Babies are born with the following teeth:

  • 4 second molars
  • 4 first molars
  • 4 canine teeth
  • 4 lateral incisors
  • 4 central incisors

There is one set on each side of the upper jaw, and one set on each side of the lower jaw.

Image showing the different types of baby teeth
Diagram showing the 5 sets of temporary teeth.

Your child’s jaw will continue to grow as they do.

When your child is about 6 years old, their adult teeth will start to replace their baby teeth. Adult teeth are also known as permanent teeth.

Baby teeth are different from adult teeth in a couple ways. The outer covering of baby teeth is made of thinner enamel than the enamel of adult teeth. This makes the baby teeth look whiter.

Baby teeth also have narrower, different shaped roots to adult teeth. This allows space for adult teeth to grow underneath them.

What is teething?

When your baby’s teeth start to come through, this is called teething.

The teeth in the centre of the bottom jaw often come through first, sometime between 6 months and 10 months of age. Your child should have at least one tooth by the time they turn one.

Your child should have all baby teeth by the time they are 3 years old. Every child is different. Don’t worry if your baby’s teeth appear earlier or later. Talk to your dentist if you are worried.

Why are baby teeth are important?

Baby teeth are important, as they:

  • help your child to chew food easily
  • help your child pronounce (say) words properly
  • keep a place in their jaw for their permanent teeth

It is important to keep baby teeth clean. This will protect against:

  • infection
  • cavities (holes caused by decay)
  • pain

Serious injury to baby teeth can damage the permanent teeth underneath.

How to care for baby teeth

Baby teeth can start to decay as soon as they appear in the mouth.

You should wipe your baby’s gums with a wet facecloth or a clean gauze pad after each feed. You can brush your baby’s first tooth as soon as it appears. To do this, use a soft toothbrush and a little water.

Older children should be supervised while they are cleaning their teeth. Children over 18 months can use a pea-sized amount of children’s low-fluoride toothpaste. Try to teach them to not swallow it. They should rinse with water after brushing.

Your child’s diet

If your child has a lot of sugar, this can destroy their teeth.

To reduce the risk of tooth decay, the best drinks for your baby besides breastmilk are milk and water. However, remember that babies under 12 months old should only have breastmilk or infant formula.

Do not bottle feed with cordial or juice. Before bed, you should only bottle feed with water.

As your child grows, limit their intake of sugary foods such as:

  • lollies
  • cakes
  • cereals
  • flavoured yoghurt

Be sure to keep their dummy or pacifier clean, and don’t dip it in honey.

Be sure to supervise younger children when they‘re learning to walk. This is because they can injure their teeth by bumping into things.

Visiting the dentist

You should take your child for their first dentist appointment when their first teeth appear, or by their first birthday.

Dentists can give you and your child tips on how to keep their teeth and gums healthy. They can also advise you on what to expect as your child’s mouth develops.

If you are worried about your baby’s tooth development, call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: November 2022


Back To Top

Need more information?

Teething

Teething can start between 4 and 10 months and usually makes babies fussy and cranky. Find out how to ease your baby’s teething discomfort and care for new and emerging teeth.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Teeth development in children - Better Health Channel

Teething symptoms are common in children and can be managed without medications.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Dental care for baby teeth & gums | Raising Children Network

Dental care and tooth decay prevention start well before first baby teeth arrive. But how do you clean your baby’s tiny gums and teeth? Our guide explains.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Tooth arrival chart

Babies are usually born with 20 baby teeth. Use this chart to see when you can expect their teeth to come through.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Your baby's growth and development - 7 months old

At 7 months, your baby may be sitting up on their own and eating solid foods. Learn more about your baby's development at 7 months.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

The different types of teeth | teeth.org.au

Understand the different parts that make up the teeth and the types of teeth found in the mouths of children and adults.

Read more on Australian Dental Association – Teeth.org.au website

Teeth Straightening and Braces | teeth.org.au

Braces and aligners are used by orthodontists in the diagnosis, prevention, and correction of crooked teeth, jaws, and unfavourable bite patterns.

Read more on Australian Dental Association – Teeth.org.au website

Brushing Teeth | teeth.org.au

Brushing your teeth morning and night every day isn’t just to keep your mouth feeling fresh and clean. This page covers everything you need to know about brushing, how to do it correctly and other oral health tips.

Read more on Australian Dental Association – Teeth.org.au website

Teeth grinding - Better Health Channel

Teeth grinding (bruxism) is involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth, usually during sleep.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Food and drink for healthy teeth

Read more on Healthy Eating Active Living NSW website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.