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Can Children Still Be Teething at 4 Years Old?

by Shara JJ Cooper, studioD

Kids and first teeth are weird. Some are born with them while others take years to come in. Most kids have a full set by the time they are 3, but others may be still pushing out new teeth well into their fourth year. Baby teeth usually appear in a typical pattern but even that can't be trusted. Some kids get their teeth all at once, while others get one or two random teeth at a time. Still, you can use your child's age and typical teeth patterns to determine if they are working on a baby tooth or an adult tooth.

Teething Symptoms

Check out your child's teething symptoms. Baby teeth are a lot more painful so chances are she'll be drooling like a mastiff puppy. A fever and flushed cheeks are also on the slate for baby teeth. These teeth have to cut through the gums as they work their way out. This makes them stand out from adult teeth, which are working through gums that have already housed teeth. Kids get 20 baby teeth, so if your 4-year-old has less than 20, she's probably due for another baby tooth.

Primary Teeth

You can call them primary teeth, baby teeth or milk teeth. Regardless, they are smaller than the adult version because they have to fit into an infant's mouth. Kids get 20 infant teeth and the last teeth to come in are typically the 2-year molars. As the name implies, they come in around the second birthday. If your child is complaining about pain at the back of the jaw and she doesn't have two full sets of molars, she is probably getting her last molar.

Permanent Teeth

Everyone gets a full set of new teeth starting when they are about 6 years old. The permanent teeth, or adult teeth, are larger than the baby teeth and instead of 20, we get 32. Most children do not get adult teeth until they are closer to 6, but it is possible for them to start developing younger. The first adult teeth to come in are usually incisors, but as with all teeth, they can come in any order. If your child is getting a permanent tooth, she is not really teething because the baby tooth has already cut through the gum. The adult teeth are much easier on the mouth.

Other Options

If you suspect your child is teething, she must be showing teething symptoms. A fever or tooth pain can also be a symptom of an infected or decaying tooth. If this is the case, she'll need to see a dentist right away. Decaying teeth can be repaired by a dentist if they are caught early. The bacteria that causes decay also spreads in the mouth and on shared utensils so it's important to control it.

About the Author

Shara JJ Cooper graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism in 2000, and has worked professionally ever since. She has a passion for community journalism, but likes to mix it up by writing for a variety of publications. Cooper is the owner/editor of the Boundary Sentinel, a web-based newspaper.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images