Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Baby teeth

5-minute read

Key facts

  • Baby teeth start to come through when your child is about 6 months old.
  • Most children will have all their teeth by the time they turn 3.
  • You can care for your child’s teeth by keeping them clean.

Babies are usually born with 20 baby teeth (also known as primary teeth). They start to come through the gums at about 6 months of age. This process is called teething.

By the time your baby is 2 to 3 years old, all their teeth will usually have appeared.

About baby teeth

Babies are born with the following teeth:

  • 4 second molars
  • 4 first molars
  • 4 canine teeth
  • 4 lateral incisors
  • 4 central incisors

There is one set on each side of the upper jaw, and one set on each side of the lower jaw.

Image showing the different types of baby teeth
Diagram showing the 5 sets of temporary teeth.

Your child’s jaw will continue to grow as they do.

When your child is about 6 years old, their adult teeth will start to replace their baby teeth. Adult teeth are also known as permanent teeth.

Baby teeth are different from adult teeth in a couple ways. The outer covering of baby teeth is made of thinner enamel than the enamel of adult teeth. This makes the baby teeth look whiter.

Baby teeth also have narrower, different shaped roots to adult teeth. This allows space for adult teeth to grow underneath them.

What is teething?

When your baby’s teeth start to come through, this is called teething.

The teeth in the centre of the bottom jaw often come through first, sometime between 6 months and 10 months of age. Your child should have at least one tooth by the time they turn one.

Your child should have all baby teeth by the time they are 3 years old. Every child is different. Don’t worry if your baby’s teeth appear earlier or later. Talk to your dentist if you are worried.

Why are baby teeth are important?

Baby teeth are important, as they:

  • help your child to chew food easily
  • help your child pronounce (say) words properly
  • keep a place in their jaw for their permanent teeth

It is important to keep baby teeth clean. This will protect against:

  • infection
  • cavities (holes caused by decay)
  • pain

Serious injury to baby teeth can damage the permanent teeth underneath.

How to care for baby teeth

Baby teeth can start to decay as soon as they appear in the mouth.

You should wipe your baby’s gums with a wet facecloth or a clean gauze pad after each feed. You can brush your baby’s first tooth as soon as it appears. To do this, use a soft toothbrush and a little water.

Older children should be supervised while they are cleaning their teeth. Children over 18 months can use a pea-sized amount of children’s low-fluoride toothpaste. Try to teach them to not swallow it. They should rinse with water after brushing.

Your child’s diet

If your child has a lot of sugar, this can destroy their teeth.

To reduce the risk of tooth decay, the best drinks for your baby besides breastmilk are milk and water. However, remember that babies under 12 months old should only have breastmilk or infant formula.

Do not bottle feed with cordial or juice. Before bed, you should only bottle feed with water.

As your child grows, limit their intake of sugary foods such as:

  • lollies
  • cakes
  • cereals
  • flavoured yoghurt

Be sure to keep their dummy or pacifier clean, and don’t dip it in honey.

Be sure to supervise younger children when they‘re learning to walk. This is because they can injure their teeth by bumping into things.

Visiting the dentist

You should take your child for their first dentist appointment when their first teeth appear, or by their first birthday.

Dentists can give you and your child tips on how to keep their teeth and gums healthy. They can also advise you on what to expect as your child’s mouth develops.

If you are worried about your baby’s tooth development, call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: November 2022

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Baby teeth

Baby teeth start to come through the gums at about 6 months and have usually all appeared by 2 to 3 years of age. Learn how to care for baby teeth.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website


Teething can start between 4 and 10 months and usually makes babies fussy and cranky. Find out how to ease your baby’s teething discomfort and care for new and emerging teeth.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Teeth development in children - Better Health Channel

Teething symptoms are common in children and can be managed without medications.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Tooth arrival chart

Babies are usually born with 20 baby teeth. Use this chart to see when you can expect their teeth to come through.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Your baby's growth and development - 7 months old

At 7 months, your baby may be sitting up on their own and eating solid foods. Learn more about your baby's development at 7 months.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

The different types of teeth |

Understand the different parts that make up the teeth and the types of teeth found in the mouths of children and adults.

Read more on Australian Dental Association – website

Wisdom Teeth |

The third adult molar teeth are commonly called ‘wisdom teeth’. These are the last teeth to appear in the mouth around the age of 18-25 years

Read more on Australian Dental Association – website

Teeth Whitening |

Teeth whitening is the process of lightening the colour of teeth. This treatment is best performed by a dental professional, such as a dentist, dental hygienist or oral health therapist.

Read more on Australian Dental Association – website

Teeth Grinding |

Bruxism is the grinding or clenching of the teeth during the daytime or at night whilst sleeping. Teeth grinding during the day is called 'awake bruxism'. During sleep, it is called 'sleep bruxism'.

Read more on Australian Dental Association – website

Cleaning between the teeth |

Interdental cleaning, or cleaning between the teeth, is an essential part of your daily oral health routine. Learn how to do it well.

Read more on Australian Dental Association – website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Queensland Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.