Late teething in babies refers to a delay in the eruption of their baby teeth compared to the typical timeline. While most infants develop their first teeth by the age of 6 to 12 months, there is a wide range of normal variation.
However, when babies experience significant delays in teething, it can raise concerns for parents. But should you be worried if your 14 month baby still doesn’t have his or her teeth?
Let’s look at some factors that contribute to late teething, the implications, and how you can address any potential underlying issues.
Importance of baby teeth in their normal eruption timeline
Baby teeth, also known as primary or deciduous teeth, play a fundamental role in a child’s oral development. They facilitate proper chewing, aid in speech development, and maintain the space necessary for the future eruption of permanent teeth.
The eruption of baby teeth, and subsequent tooth loss, follows a relatively predictable timeline, with the lower front teeth typically appearing first, followed by the upper front teeth and subsequent teeth on both sides of the mouth.
The eruption timeline for baby teeth can vary, but here is a table showcasing the typical ranges according to the American Dental Association (ADA):
|Typical Eruption Age (Months)
|8 to 12
|9 to 13
|16 to 22
|13 to 19
|25 to 33
|Typical Eruption Age (Months)
|6 to 10
|10 to 16
|17 to 23
|14 to 18
|23 to 31
Normal Variation in Teething Timelines
Please note that teething timelines can vary significantly among infants. This is important for parents’ peace of mind. While most babies develop their first teeth within the typical age range, others may experience delayed eruption without underlying health issues.
Moreover, late teething, in most cases, does not necessarily indicate future dental problems. However, maintaining routine dental care and hygiene practices is crucial for long-term oral health.
However, variations in teething patterns can occur, and understanding what constitutes a delay is essential for identifying potential concerns.
10 Causes of Late Teething in Babies
Delayed teething in babies can be attributed to various factors, ranging from mild to severe. Understanding these causes is essential in identifying potential reasons behind late teething.
Here are the main causes:
a. Hereditary Factors
Late teething in babies can have a hereditary component, meaning it that it may run in your family. If parents or close relatives experienced delays in teething during their infancy, it increases the likelihood of a similar pattern in the child. Consulting with relatives and understanding their teething experiences can provide insights into the genetic factors at play.
b. Nutritional Factors
Nutrition plays a significant role in the development and eruption of teeth in infants. Adequate intake of essential nutrients, particularly calcium and vitamins, is vital for optimal tooth formation.
Breast milk is rich in calcium and other vital nutrients, supporting healthy tooth and bone development. Similarly, baby formula designed to meet a baby’s nutritional needs should provide the necessary nutrients for proper teething.
Inadequate nutrition, whether due to insufficient breast milk or a formula lacking essential components, can lead to delayed tooth eruption.
c. Hormonal Factors (Hypothyroidism)
Hormonal imbalances can affect various aspects of a child’s development, including teething.
Hypothyroidism, a condition characterized by an underactive thyroid gland, can impact the timing of tooth eruption. The thyroid gland produces hormones crucial for normal growth and development, including tooth development.
When the production of these hormones is insufficient, delays in teething may occur. Monitoring thyroid function and addressing hormonal imbalances is important in managing delayed teething associated with hypothyroidism.
d. Developmental Disorders (hypopituitarism)
Certain developmental disorders can contribute to late teething in babies. Conditions like hypopituitarism, a disorder affecting the pituitary gland’s hormone production, can disrupt normal growth patterns, including tooth eruption. Babies with developmental disorders may experience delays in various milestones, including teething.
Understanding the association between specific disorders and delayed teething can help identify potential underlying causes and guide appropriate interventions.
e. Premature Birth or Low Birth Weight
Babies born prematurely, before 37 weeks of pregnancy, are at a higher risk of delayed growth and development, including delayed eruption of teeth. Similarly, infants with low birth weight may face developmental challenges, which can affect the timing of teething.
Certain syndromes, such as Down Syndrome, Cleidocranial dysostosis, or Apert Syndrome, can cause a delayed eruption of teeth. These syndromes often involve developmental abnormalities that impact various aspects of a child’s growth and development.
Fibrosis is a condition characterized by thick gums that can hinder the eruption of teeth. The presence of thick gums prevents teeth from emerging through the gumline, leading to a delay in teething.
h. Diseases and Medications
Certain diseases that affect the immune system, such as anemia, cancer, HIV, and certain medications like chemotherapy drugs or phenytoin, can be linked to delayed teething in babies. These conditions or medications can interfere with the natural teething process.
Accidental injuries to the jawbone can damage the tooth buds located within the gums. Such injuries can impede the eruption of teeth, leading to delayed teething or no teething at all.
j. Impacted Teeth
Sometimes, teeth can become impacted due to lack of space, the presence of a cyst, or a tilted position. Impacted teeth struggle to erupt through the gums, resulting in delayed teething.
Complications of Late Teething
Late teething in babies can potentially lead to several complications that warrant attention. Understanding these complications can emphasize the importance of timely intervention and professional dental care. Here are some notable complications:
1. Dental Complications
Late teething can lead to dental complications, primarily related to the positioning of permanent teeth, including:
- Crooked or misaligned permanent teeth:
When baby teeth erupt late or are absent for an extended period, it can affect the alignment of permanent teeth. Crooked or misaligned permanent teeth may require orthodontic treatment to correct.
- Increased risk of dental caries:
Additionally, the delay in tooth eruption can increase the risk of cavities and tooth decay as the teeth are exposed to oral bacteria for a more extended period without proper dental care.
- Shrinking jawbone and facial sagging:
Delayed eruption of teeth can gradually cause the jawbone to shrink, leading to facial sagging and an asymmetrical appearance. Proper teeth alignment is crucial for maintaining the structure and aesthetics of the face.
- Hyperdontia (Supernumerary Teeth):
In some cases, delayed teething can lead to the development of supernumerary teeth, where the child has more teeth than the usual number. This condition, known as hyperdontia, can cause overcrowding and alignment issues in the mouth.
- Formation of Cysts:
Impacted teeth, resulting from delayed eruption, can lead to the formation of cysts. These cysts can damage surrounding tissues and potentially require surgical intervention to resolve.
2. Functional Complications
Delayed teething can impact a baby’s functional abilities, particularly in terms of chewing and the introduction of solid foods.
- Chewing plays a crucial role in a child’s transition to solid foods, and delayed teething may lead to challenges in this process. Late teething can hinder a baby’s ability to chew solid foods at the appropriate stage of their development. Difficulties in chewing can in turn impact the child’s nutritional intake and overall oral motor skills.
- Additionally, late teething can affect speech development, as teeth provide support and aid in the formation of sounds. Early identification of delayed teething can help address functional complications and support proper oral and speech development.
When to Consult a Doctor
To avoid these complications, it is crucial to consult a pediatric dentist if you notice a significant delay in your baby’s teething. A professional evaluation can help identify any underlying issues and provide appropriate guidance and treatment to ensure optimal oral health and development.
When visiting a doctor, there are various things you should keep in mind:
Step 1: Family History and Evaluation
Assessing the family history of late teething is important in determining whether the delay is within the range of normal variation or potentially indicative of an underlying issue. If late teething does not run in the family, it may warrant closer attention and evaluation by a healthcare professional. Discussing teething experiences with parents and relatives can provide valuable insights into the genetic factors contributing to late teething.
Step 2: Check the Signs and Symptoms
Certain signs and symptoms associated with delayed teething should prompt further evaluation. Delayed overall development, abnormal metabolism, abnormal heart rate, constipation, and other unusual manifestations may indicate underlying health concerns. Monitoring these signs and discussing them with a pediatric dentist or healthcare provider is crucial in identifying potential causes and ensuring appropriate management.
Step 3: Consulting a Pediatric Dentist
Pediatric dentists specialize in the oral health of infants, children, and adolescents, making them valuable resources for evaluating late teething. They can provide comprehensive dental examinations, including X-rays, to assess your child’s tooth development and identify any underlying issues. In some cases, a referral to other specialists may be necessary to investigate potential developmental or health concerns associated with delayed teething.
Managing Late Teething
1. Good Oral Hygiene
Maintaining good oral hygiene during the teething process is crucial for overall oral health.
- Parents should gently clean the baby’s gums with a soft, damp cloth or a silicone finger brush before the eruption of teeth.
- Once teeth emerge, brushing with an appropriate-sized toothbrush and using a smear of fluoride toothpaste helps prevent tooth decay.
- Regular dental visits, starting from the eruption of the first tooth or around the child’s first birthday, enable early detection of any dental issues and establish a foundation for proper oral care.
2. Nutritional Considerations
Ensuring optimal nutrition is essential for supporting healthy tooth development.
- Breastfeeding and appropriate formula feeding provide the necessary nutrients, including calcium and vitamins, to promote strong teeth and bones.
- Consulting with a nutritionist or pediatrician can help address any concerns regarding the baby’s diet and ensure they receive a well-rounded, nutritionally balanced intake that supports healthy teething and overall development.
In conclusion, late teething in babies can be influenced by various factors, including hereditary, nutritional, hormonal, and developmental considerations. While most cases of delayed tooth eruption are not a cause for immediate concern, it is essential to consult a pediatric dentist if the delay extends beyond the typical age range.
Early identification of potential underlying issues and appropriate management strategies can help ensure optimal oral health and development for the child. Parents can find comfort in knowing that their baby’s unique teething timeline is part of their individual growth journey, and regular dental care will support their long-term oral health needs.