The appearance of your baby's first teeth is an exciting time, but it's also quite predictable. The order in which your baby's teeth erupt (emerge from their gums) can be forecast, often with total accuracy. But if your baby's teeth erupt out of the standard order, does this mean that something's wrong?

The Standard Order of Eruption

Typically, the lower central incisors are the first teeth to erupt. This generally starts to happen by about five months of age, although it can happen earlier or later. Upper central incisors are next to erupt, followed by upper and lower lateral incisors, upper and lower canines, upper and lower first molars, with upper and lower second molars being the last to erupt. This is the standard order of tooth formation. What if your baby didn't get the memo? 

Normal or Abnormal

The standard order of tooth formation is often referred to as normal dental development. This can be a loaded term, since by implication, if your baby's teeth appeared in a different order, does this mean they're abnormal? Not at all. In this context, normal only means statistically average, as in, this is the order of tooth formation for the majority of children. Any variances should not be a cause for concern, but should be monitored.

Developmental Variances

Any variances will not be extreme. For example, it's extremely unlikely that your child's second molars will precede their lateral incisors. The order in which teeth develop is generally also the order that teeth will detach and be replaced with permanent adult teeth, so it's important to remember this in the years to come. But as long as your baby's teeth erupt without disruption, the precise order isn't important. However, if certain types of teeth seem to be failing to develop, then this should be investigated.

Specific Concerns

When teeth form out of standard order, it can be a little difficult to tell if any teeth are delayed, or failing to develop altogether. If you should have any concerns that any specific types of teeth are long overdue, it can help to err on the side of caution and take your baby to the pediatric dental specialists at your local dental practice. The progress of unerupted teeth can be charted with an x-ray, and you'll probably just be told to wait a little longer. 

Teeth that develop in a different order to what is considered standard don't indicate a problem, and since your baby should be seeing a pediatric dentist shortly after their very first tooth makes an appearance, you should certainly discuss any concerns during the consultation.

For more information, speak with a pediatric dental specialist in your area.