Home › Health Topics › Growth & Development > 

Teeth - development and teething

tooth; teeth; teething; development; ;

How you look after your child's teeth from the time they are babies will make a difference to how they grow and how healthy they are. This means not only how you clean teeth but also how you protect them from things that can harm teeth.

Tooth decay is preventable.

When teeth come through

  • The time when teeth appear varies from child to child.
  • Occasionally babies are born with a tooth, but these early teeth are usually lost soon after birth.
  • Usually the first tooth appears between 6 to 10 months, but a few babies have no teeth until 12 months or more.
  • The lower two front teeth usually come through before the upper ones.
  • The teeth usually come through in pairs - one on the right, one on the left side.
  • By about 2½ to 3 years, all 20 baby teeth have come through.
  • The first permanent teeth (molars in both jaws and the central (incisor) teeth in the lower jaw) begin to come through when a child is about 6.
  • By 12 to 13 years, most children have 28 permanent teeth. The last 4 molars ('wisdom teeth') usually come through between 17 and 21 years.


  • Teething is natural.  When a new tooth is moving up through the jaw into the mouth, the gums might look red and swollen.
  • Some research shows babies aren’t more irritable or unwell when teeth come through, but many people, including parents and doctors, believe babies are in pain, irritable, have sleep problems, and get snuffly around the time they get new teeth.
  • If your baby seems distressed, the following may help them:
    • Teething rings
    • A cool cloth for the child to bite on
    • Pain relief, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen (work out the correct dose of paracetamol or ibuprofen for your baby, using information on the bottle)
  • SA Health no longer recommends the use of teething gels for infant teething.
    • Teething gels that contain lidocaine (also called lignocaine) are not proven to be effective and may cause harm if too much is swallowed at one time. For more information, see the WCH Teething Gel – Frequently Asked Questions (for consumers).
    • Teething gels that contain salicylates may also cause harm if too much is swallowed. Salicylates are related to aspirin and have been linked to a serious illness called Reyes syndrome in children.
  • Do not use lemon juice on your baby's gums. Lemon juice has a lot of acid and can harm new teeth by dissolving the tooth enamel.

More to read

 Raising Children Network https://raisingchildren.net.au/ (Raising Children website is produced with the help of an extensive network including the Australian Government) - has many topics on the development and care of teeth, including: 

Pregnancy, Birth and Baby Pregnancy, Birth and Baby is a national Australian Government service providing support and information for expecting parents and parents of children, from birth to 5 years of age.

back to top

The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.

Home › Health Topics › Growth & Development >