About Kids’ Teeth

We have two sets of teeth during life: 20 temporary baby teeth and 32 permanent adult teeth.

Birth – 3 Years Old 3 – 6 Years Old 6 – 12 Years Old 12 – 17 Years Old 17 – 21 Years Old

Birth – 3 Years Old

The 20 baby teeth that will appear in the first 3 years of your baby’s life are already there at birth, in your baby’s jawbones. Baby teeth are key for chewing, speaking and appearance. They also hold space in the jaws for upcoming adult teeth. Even though they fall out, your child’s baby teeth are important, and you need to take good care of them.

Learn about Baby Tooth Decay

3 – 6 Years Old

From around ages 3 - 6, most children have all 20 baby teeth come in.

Protect your kids’ teeth by brushing for 2 minutes, 2 times a day with a fluoride toothpaste for kids 2 and older.

Learn about Thumb Sucking and Pacifiers

6 – 12 Years Old

From around ages 6 - 12, children gradually lose their baby teeth and their adult teeth start to appear.

The first adult teeth to come in are molars. These first molars are important because they help shape your child’s face and affect the position and health of the other adult teeth that are about to arrive.

Learn about Preventing Kids' Tooth Decay

12 – 17 Years Old

Cavities aren’t just for little kids—you can get them at any age. When you eat sugary foods and drink sugary sodas, juice or energy drinks, you put yourself at risk for tooth decay and gum disease. Good oral hygiene is especially important for people wearing braces.  And it’s always important to wear a mouthguard when playing sports like basketball, soccer, football and hockey.

17 – 21 Years Old

The last teeth to appear are wisdom teeth at around ages 17 – 21. By age 21, all 32 of the adult teeth have usually appeared.

Learn about Nutrition


A balanced diet helps your children’s teeth and gums to be healthy. A diet high in natural or added sugars may place your child at extra risk for tooth decay. To learn more, watch the video “Your Diet and Your Teeth”. Watch Video

What is a healthy diet for my child?

A healthy, balanced diet has all the nutrients your child needs to grow and includes the following major food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy.

How can my children’s diet protect their teeth?

First, be sure they’re eating a balanced diet, limiting between-meal snacks and limiting how frequently they have food or beverages with sugar. Sugar is in more than just the sugar bowl and candy. Lots of foods contain one or more types of sugar, and all types of sugars can cause tooth decay. Sugar can be found in lots of processed foods, such as cookies, crackers, cereals and soda. Sugar is also often added in condiments like catsup and salad dressings.

Should my kid give up all foods with sugar?

No way! You simply need to select and serve them wisely. A food with sugar is safer for teeth if it is eaten with a meal, not as a snack. Chewing during a meal helps produce saliva which helps wash away sugary and starchy foods. Sticky foods, like potato chips, raisins and other dried fruit and candy are not easily washed away from your kid’s teeth by saliva, water or milk, so they have more cavity-causing potential. Talk to your dentist about serving foods that protect your kid’s dental health.

Does a balanced diet mean my kid gets enough fluoride?

No. A balanced diet does not guarantee the proper amount of fluoride for the development and maintenance of your kid’s teeth. If you do not live in a community with fluoride in the water or have the right amount of naturally occurring fluoride in your well water, your child may need additional fluoride. Talk to your dentist about your kid’s specific fluoride needs.

A Few More Tips

  • Ask your dentist to help you assess your child's diet.
  • Shop smart – don’t stock your pantry with sugary snacks
  • Limit the number of snack times; choose nutritious snacks like whole fruit and vegetables.
  • Give your child a balanced diet and serve a limited amount of foods with sugar at mealtime.
  • Don't put your young child to bed with a bottle.
  • If your child chews gum, choose sugar-free gum.
  • Drink fluoridated water instead of sweetened and/or carbonated drinks.