My Baby’s Teeth are Coming in Wrong!

Dear Mamas,

This may sound crazy but I’m seriously worried. My daughter is 10 months old and I need to know what’s normal for the order of appearance of baby teeth.

She got the first 2 middle bottom teeth at 6 1/2 months, then nothing for 3 months, then a couple weeks ago 2 more broke through on top — but instead of the ones in the middle they were the ones to the side of those! She looks like a little vampire and I just know there’s something wrong.

All the information I’ve found says the bottom middles should be followed by the top middles, and THEN the sides. What’s going on? Are the middle teeth missing?

(Nervous) Nell

Dear Nell,

Not to worry, your daughter is just fine! You’re right when you say that the norm (not to be confused with normal) is for the bottom central incisors (the cutters) to come in first, followed by the top central incisors and then the top side incisors.

But not all babies read the book, and this order is an average only. Each baby is different and teeth appear when they’re good and ready. Many babies have about six teeth at a year (it sounds like your daughter is likely to be right on target), but some have none at that age, while a very few perfectly healthy children are born with a tooth or two (natal teeth). There’s a wide range of “normal”. You can count on those middle top teeth coming in any day now. They’re working on it. Promise.

Unlike body growth, the appearance of baby teeth has nothing to do with overall health or nutrition, but is guided by the genetic blueprint she was born with. So there’s little or nothing you can do to influence when those chompers come in.

It’s always funny to hear young moms comparing their babies’ tooth development as though it’s a competition and indicates some future precocity.

“James has 7 teeth already … how many does Lizzie have? Only 2? Have you had her checked?”

Sorry, early teethers aren’t more likely to get into Harvard and late teethers aren’t delayed.

Once those baby teeth start to come in they do need to be cared for. Use a piece of clean gauze wrapped around your finger or a soft baby toothbrush to gently rub the surface of the teeth. A small amount of children’s toothpaste may be rubbed around the teeth and gums. Once your toddler is interested, let her try brushing her own teeth, even though you’ll need to finish the job until she’s old enough to do it herself.

Avoid sugary drinks (including fruit juices) and NEVER put baby down in the crib with a bottle of anything other than water. The sugars in formula, milk or juice will sit on the teeth, rotting them from within — even the ones that are still below the gum line. Have you seen toddlers with brown, rotted-looking front teeth? That’s how it happens.

Take care of those mini-pearly whites and they’ll serve your little one well until her permanent teeth begin to make an appearance starting around five or six. Or whenever they do.

~ The Mamas

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Rachel Zahn, MD is a pediatrician turned health writer who had three kids during medical school and pediatric training—crazy, huh?


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2 responses to “My Baby’s Teeth are Coming in Wrong!”

  1. kiri

    am curious my twin two has his top front an bottem front nw his nex teeth are cming in next to the top front one has cme through in the right place tha other however looks as tho its cming through behind the top tooth wats hapining am gna go see dentist on monday bt wna knw nw?

  2. RF

    Well my baby had her first two bottom theeth at 10 months old and i tought so far so good and then now at 11 months she started to make severe symptoms of theething….and I asked myself why cuz usually the most painful and symptomatic theeth are the molars which come usually last and around 2 years old or so. But guess what her two upper left molars are popping out…some babies and toddlers don’t theeth like the rest and it’s nothing to be worried…the charts are just a “should” so doesn’t mean it’s the same for everybody

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