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Delayed Tooth Eruption: What to Expect

As much as we love those gummy baby smiles, it’s definitely a proud parent moment when that first tooth emerges. Sure, it’s not exactly an achievement, but after all the drooling and fussing and gnawing everything within reach, it sure feels like one, doesn’t it? Some babies and toddlers don’t get their baby teeth when we expect them to, though. This is a phenomenon known as delayed tooth eruption.

What Is Delayed Tooth Eruption?

Keep in mind, all babies are different and just like any other milestone, there are natural variations in timing that are still very much normal. In general, the two lower front teeth start to erupt around six months of age, give or take, followed by the four upper teeth, and then the rest of the teeth erupt in pairs, one on each side of the mouth. When children reach three years of age, they’ll have 20 baby teeth.

We look for children to have four teeth around 11 months, eight teeth by 15 months, 12 teeth at 19 months, 16 teeth at 23 months, and 20 teeth at 27 months. It can be perfectly normal for teeth to come in slightly later than this, but if the eruption pattern is way off or if no teeth have erupted by the age of 18 months, we may diagnose it as delayed tooth eruption. This term is not a condition or a disorder, it’s simply a descriptive term for what is happening with your child’s teeth.

Why Does Delayed Tooth Eruption Happen?

Often delayed tooth eruption comes down to genetics. Ask your parents and your spouse’s parents and odds are there’s a family pattern at play, especially if the delay isn’t significant. Other reasons for delayed tooth eruption include:

  • Prematurity
  • Low birthweight
  • Genetic abnormalities like amelogenesis imperfecta and regional odontodysplasia
  • Nutritional deficiency
  • Down’s syndrome
  • Hypopituitarism

If none of these apply, and your child is otherwise healthy, rest assured that the delay in teething is probably just “one of those things”—a little quirk that you’ll add to the baby book.

Is Treatment Needed for Delayed Tooth Eruption?

There’s no treatment needed for delayed tooth eruption, unless it’s due to malnutrition; it’s simply something we keep our eye on. We do know, though, that delayed tooth eruption can be an indicator of future dental problems that do need treatment—primarily, orthodontic issues. Delayed tooth eruption can also prevent kids from eating certain healthy foods that require teeth to bite into, so you may need to consult with a nutritionist to ensure that your child’s diet is well-rounded.

When Should My Child See a Dentist?

The American Dental Association recommends that children have their first dentist appointment when their first teeth erupt or at the age of one year, whichever comes first. While many parents hold off on these initial visits, we do strongly recommend that you make an appointment by 18 months if teeth haven’t emerged by this time. During this appointment, we’ll conduct a thorough exam and take x-rays, if needed, to diagnose any problems that might be underneath the surface.

Schedule an Appointment

Are you concerned that your toddler’s teeth aren’t coming in on time? Contact us today at 516-226-7337 to schedule an appointment.