You can predict what your baby will put into his mouth—everything—but you can't predict exactly what will happen inside his mouth. All babies' teeth appear in the same general order, but the time it takes for babies to go from gummy grins to toothy smiles varies. As long as your baby's teeth appear within a general time period, worry more about what he chews than how many teeth do the chewing.
There's a wide span during which a baby's first tooth normally appears. KidsHealth says that teething may begin when your infant is as young as 3 months old, while the U.S. National Library of Medicine says the first tooth tends to appear when a baby is 6 to 8 months old, or even later. Expect to see your baby's bottom two front teeth first. Four to eight weeks later, says KidsHealth, the four front top teeth should break through. Another month later you can expect to spot a tooth erupting on either side of the bottom two front teeth.
Years Two and Three: Slow and Steady
You'll have some time to admire your little one's half-toothy smile. After the first eight teeth arrive, it may be a few months before you notice the next teeth erupting. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the top and bottom first molars typically arrive when your baby is between 13 and 19 months old. Next, the top and bottom canine teeth appear, filling in the spaces between the first molars and the four front teeth, between about 16 and 23 months of age. The second molars, the teeth farthest back, arrive last, when your infant is between 23 and 33 months old. In all cases, the top and bottom teeth won't necessarily erupt at the same time.
The 7+4 Rule
Life is hectic with a growing baby, and keeping a neat calendar marking his tooth eruptions is probably not at the top of your to-do list. If you find yourself wondering whether he's on track, just remember what the American Academy of Pediatrics calls the "7 + 4 rule." Your baby's first teeth will probably arrive by the time he's about 7 months old. For every four months after that, expect four new teeth to appear. The typical baby will have four teeth at 11 months, eight teeth at 15 months, 12 teeth at 19 months, 16 teeth at 23 months and 20 teeth at 27 months. These are just general guidelines (his second molars might not arrive until he's 30 months old or older) but they'll help you remember the typical timeline.
Each new tooth brings the possibility of discomfort for your infant. Massaging his tender gums with a clean finger, providing a cold washcloth or hard rubber teething ring for chewing and feeding your baby pea-sized bites of teething biscuits can ease some of his suffering. Tooth decay is also a concern. Twenty-eight percent of children have cavities by age 3, says HealthyChildren.org. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends brushing an infant's teeth daily with a soft child's toothbrush and a smear of fluoridated toothpaste after the first tooth appears. Once he turns 2, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.