Although tooth eruption occurs at different times for different people, a general eruption timeline exists. Typically, humans have 20 primary teeth and 32 permanent teeth. Tooth eruption has three stages. The first, known as primary dentition stage, occurs when only primary teeth are visible. Once the first permanent tooth erupts into the mouth, the teeth are in the mixed (or transitional) dentition. After the last primary tooth falls out of the mouth, the teeth are in the permanent dentition.
Primary dentition starts on the arrival of the mandibular central incisors, typically from around six months, and lasts until the first permanent molars appear in the mouth, usually at six years. The primary teeth typically erupt in the following order: (1) central incisor, (2) lateral incisor, (3) first molar, (4) canine, and (5) second molar. As a general rule, four teeth erupt for every six months of life, mandibular teeth erupt before maxillary teeth, and teeth erupt sooner in females than males. During primary dentition, the tooth buds of permanent teeth develop below the primary teeth, close to the palate or tongue.
Mixed dentition starts when the first permanent molar appears in the mouth, usually at five or six years, and lasts until the last primary tooth is lost, usually at ten, eleven, or twelve years. Permanent teeth in the maxilla erupt in a different order from permanent teeth on the mandible. Maxillary teeth erupt in the following order: (1) first molar (2) central incisor, (3) lateral incisor, (4) first premolar, (5) second premolar, (6) canine, (7) second molar, and (8) third molar. Mandibular teeth erupt in the following order: (1) first molar (2) central incisor, (3) lateral incisor, (4) canine, (5) first premolar, (6) second premolar, (7) second molar, and (8) third molar. Since there are no premolars in the primary dentition, the primary molars are replaced by permanent premolars. If any primary teeth are lost before permanent teeth are ready to replace them, some posterior teeth may drift forward and cause space to be lost in the mouth. This may cause crowding and/or misplacement once the permanent teeth erupt, which is usually referred to as malocclusion. Orthodontics may be required in such circumstances for an individual to achieve a straight set of teeth.
The permanent dentition begins when the last primary tooth is lost, usually at 11 to 12 years, and lasts for the rest of a person's life or until all of the teeth are lost (edentulism). During this stage, third molars (also called "wisdom teeth") are frequently extracted because of decay, pain or impactions. The main reasons for tooth loss are decay or periodontal disease.