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What is Tooth Eruption?

By Harriette Halepis
Updated Jan 24, 2024
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Tooth eruption refers to the emergence of teeth within a person's mouth. The first form of tooth eruption that a human will experience comes in the form of primary teeth. Primary teeth erupt into the mouth around six months to two years of age. At age six, more teeth begin to erupt creating a mixture of primary and permanent teeth. Once the final primary tooth has been lost, permanent teeth erupt into the mouth.

Science has no explanation as to why tooth eruption occurs. Earlier theories based tooth eruption upon the growth of a tooth's root, while other theories determined that the growth of a tooth was caused by bone surrounding a tooth. The present theory includes the impact of the periodontal ligament upon the teeth. Thus far, all theories involving tooth eruption have yet to be proven, though some of the earlier theories have been effectively disproven.

Interestingly, while no concrete evidence exists as to why teeth erupt, all humans go through the same eruption stages. The first stage is the primary stage that includes the eruption of the mandibular central incisors. Primary tooth order includes the eruption of the central incisor, lateral incisor, first molar, canine, and second molar. Following the primary stage, the mixed stage occurs.

During the mixed stage, maxillary teeth erupt beginning with the first molar. Then, the central incisor, lateral incisor, first premolar, canine, second molar, and third molar erupt. Mandibular teeth erupt in an entirely different order beginning with the first molar,central incisor, lateral incisor, canine, first premolar, second premolar, second molar, and third molar.

Crowded or misplaced teeth inside of the mouth tends to occur if primary teeth are lost before permanent teeth can set-in. In this instance, some teeth might move forward causing teeth to become crowded. Crowded teeth can be straightened with the help of an orthodontist, though this attempt at straightening is not always effective.

Following the mixed tooth stage, permanent teeth settle into the mouth. These permanent teeth are accompanied by third molars that are often referred to as wisdom teeth. Most people opt to remove these third molars due to tooth pain and discomfort. While everyone experiences the same tooth eruption stages, eruption can occur at different times depending upon the person. As a general guideline, primary teeth will erupt every six months until a person has reached the age of six. Permanent teeth tend to erupt around twelve years of age.

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Discussion Comments
By wavy58 — On Dec 01, 2011

@kylee07drg - It should happen by the time he is six months old. Last year, my dog had ten puppies, so I have had a lot of dealings with puppy teeth, and I feel your pain!

The puppies got their primary teeth when they were about four weeks old. The emergence of these sharp teeth are what causes the mother to wean them, so they are necessary.

The permanent teeth first start to erupt when the puppy is about three months old. They gradually replace the sharp little knives, and once the puppy hits six months, he should have a mouth full of regular dog teeth.

By kylee07drg — On Nov 30, 2011

I have a four-month old puppy, and I have been wondering when he will lose his sharp puppy teeth. I keep waiting anxiously for his permanent teeth to erupt, but it hasn’t happened yet.

When he bites my hand or arm playfully, it feels like little knives are cutting into me. I can hardly stand to play with him because of the pain, but I don’t want him to think he’s done something wrong.

Does anyone know what the general age of permanent tooth eruption in puppies is? I hope it’s soon, because my skin can’t take much more punishment!

By StarJo — On Nov 30, 2011

The one comforting thing about tooth loss to children is the visit from the tooth fairy. I would always put fifty cents under my son’s pillow as I removed his tooth, and he believed in that fairy until he was eleven.

He commented to me then that he hadn’t lost any teeth in awhile, and he was afraid the tooth fairy might be getting impatient with him. I broke down and told him the truth then.

I’m glad that children don’t usually experience permanent tooth eruption until they are around this age. To have told him the truth any sooner would have disappointed him greatly.

By Oceana — On Nov 29, 2011

I still remember the taste of blood from losing my first tooth. It had gotten so loose that it wiggled easily, so the actual pulling didn’t hurt. The blood flow that followed did scare me, though.

I lost one of my front teeth first, so I couldn’t wait for my permanent one to come in and fill the spot. I looked so odd without a tooth there that I refused to smile with an open mouth.

I was so happy to see my new tooth erupting. I knew that I would be looking normal again soon, and that was a great comfort to a self-conscious kid like me.

By Tomislav — On Nov 29, 2011

I have not handled my two bottom wisdom teeth erupting through my gums. My two wisdom teeth half-way erupted in my mouth about a couple months again, and that was very painful.

My wisdom teeth erupting got so bad that my gums surrounding my wisdom teeth got infected so bad that my throat eventually got infected as well, to the point where it almost swelled up completely and I lost my voice.

The pain of the erupting wisdom teeth, and the pain from the mouth infection, got so bad that only cold/soft foods soothed my teeth, like ice cream. I tried just putting ice cubes in the back of my mouth, but that didn’t help much.

They should probably make adult teething rings, seriously. I mean I know you can just as well use a baby one, but still.

This infection went away in about a week, but it was still dreadful and a horrible experience. My dentist recommended me getting my wisdom teeth removed, by an oral surgeon, as my teeth roots grow in very crooked, so I need a specialist to yank them out at such a messed up angle.

By John57 — On Nov 29, 2011

I remember being absolutely miserable when my wisdom teeth erupted. Many people get an erupted tooth like this and don't have any problems at all. I don't think my grandma ever even had her wisdom teeth removed.

She always joked that is why she was so smart is because she still had her wisdom teeth!

Mine seemed to always cause me problems and they were coming in at a weird angle, so my dentist recommended I have them removed as soon as possible.

Having them removed was no piece of cake either, as I even had some complications with that. Once everything finally got all healed up I haven't had any problems since.

I have heard that it is much easier on a person if they have their wisdom teeth removed when they are younger, than to wait until they are older. I am glad I had mine removed when I did so I don't even have to worry about them anymore.

By andee — On Nov 28, 2011

I have always found it interesting how different everyone is when they start getting their teeth. I tried to keep some sort of tooth eruption chart for each of my kids, but gave up after the second one.

You always think you will remember that kind of stuff, but you never do. Even when I looked back comparing my first two kids, there was a big difference.

There were differences in how soon they got their first teeth, and how old they were before all of their permanent teeth were in.

Most of my kids handled teething pretty good. If they were getting fussy and drooling all over the place, I could always feel some teeth starting to come in.

I would keep teething rings in the freezer to give them if they were really bothered by them. There is something about that cold feeling that seemed to soothe them better than anything.

By manykitties2 — On Nov 27, 2011

@Sara007 - There is a chance your daughter may have an problem beyond the process of infant tooth eruption, so it might be a good idea to see the doctor if she is upset a lot. If you are positive though, that it is an issue with her teething I would suggest buying some numbing gel from your pharmacy. They have a formula available for teething children, and that should help your daughter be more comfortable.

Another thing you can do is make sure she has some suitable teething toys. Now all babies like the same ones. As a tip, try cooling it in the refrigerator before giving it to your child. The coolness can be soothing.

By Sara007 — On Nov 26, 2011

Is there way to help children teething so that they are not so uncomfortable with their baby tooth eruption?

My daughter is starting to get her baby teeth and she is giving me the impression that she is really unhappy with the process. She is crying a lot and I am not sure what to do. With my other kids I don't recall this stage being nearly as upsetting.

I am not sure whether I should take her to the doctor or try and give her some over the counter pain medicine to help with the problem. I know the children teething process can be tough, but I hate seeing my daughter so uncomfortable.

By candyquilt — On Nov 26, 2011

I think the order that teeth come in and erupt must have to do with the fact that babies are growing and their jaw and mouth is still developing. And the differences in when they come through probably has to do with the speed with which their jaw develops. I'm not an expert or anything, but it's just a hunch from being a mom of three.

My kids actually went through teething fairly easily. All three had some irritation and felt like biting and sucking on things during their primary tooth eruption. But I always had a teething ring for them on hand which seemed to handle the irritation well.

By the way, is there another term for tooth eruption? 'Tooth eruption' sounds like something different than what it is, as if the tooth is exploding or something! It's kind of confusing!

By burcidi — On Nov 26, 2011

@burcinc-- We briefly touched on this in my biology class and my professor said that some people never have their permanent teeth come in, whereas others have a second set of permanent teeth.

He said he knew someone who had a whole second set of permanent teeth found ready to erupt on an x-ray which had to be surgically removed.

I personally think that a gene or multiple genes are responsible for our teeth and tooth eruption times. It's unfortunate that scientists have not looked into this much because it's really interesting.

If we knew which genes were responsible, we could maybe make adjustments to prevent certain dental issues and abnormalities. Maybe people wouldn't even need to wear braces or have their teeth removed anymore. Or we could figure out why the rest of your wisdom teeth haven't come in yet or if they will ever.

By burcinc — On Nov 25, 2011

I don't remember having much pain or discomfort while getting my permanent teeth. But my first wisdom tooth erupted very painfully. I had to go to the dentist due to the discomfort and he said that there wasn't enough room in my mouth for my wisdom tooth and that's why it was more painful that usual. That tooth was removed before it completely set in and we scheduled a follow-up to check up on the other wisdom teeth that would be coming.

This was several years ago and my last dentist visit showed no signs of the other wisdom teeth. I am almost 26 right now and I know wisdom teeth come in at different times for different people. But my dentist is convinced that the remaining three will not be coming through although he doesn't know why.

I guess tooth formation and tooth eruption times really varies from person to person.

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