10 years old is an interesting age when it comes to tooth development. So much is changing at this stage in a child’s growth since the last of their baby teeth are beginning to shed and make room for a permanent set of adult teeth. As these new adult teeth emerge, this also begins to contribute to a change in their jawline, giving their face a longer and more structured appearance to accommodate the new teeth and help them grow into their adult face.
So exactly how many teeth does a 10 year old child have? Generally speaking, a child of 10 years will have roughly 24 teeth, and this will be made up of a mix of primary and secondary teeth. Primary teeth refer to their milk or ‘baby’ teeth that began to form when they were infants and their secondary teeth are the permanent ones that begin appearing around age 6 and will later become their full set of adult teeth.
It’s worth noting that children can lose their baby teeth and develop their adult ones at different rates, so it can be difficult to say whether a total of 24 teeth is true for all 10 year old’s. It’s for this reason that many parents become concerned that their child’s dental development may not be normal, but you can always consult a pediatric dentist to find out whether your child’s teeth are developing at a normal rate. Read on for a more detailed look into a 10 year old’s dental development and what to expect in the years to come.
What Tooth Development Looks Like at 10 Years Old
As above-mentioned, the average number of teeth for most 10 year old’s is normally 24 – but how is this number calculated? Pediatric dentistry bases this number on the amount of teeth expected to form and those that are typically lost at this age, i.e. when certain teeth are expected to erupt and when a child’s primary or ‘baby’ teeth are expected to fall out and 24 is the total amount they should be left with. After age 10 and beyond, this process repeats itself until all of their baby teeth are replaced by a full set of 32 adult teeth (including wisdom teeth) which reach their final form between their late teens and early twenties.
What makes up these 24 teeth in 10 year olds?
According to Silicon Valley Dental Hygienist Cathye L Smithwick, a 10 year old child’s 24 teeth should generally consist of the following:
- 8 upper incisors – 4 permanent central incisors and 4 lateral incisors.
- 4 primary canines – the permanent canines usually don’t appear until age 11 or 12 years old.
- A set of 8 primary molars – it is around this age (10-11 years old) that some of these primary ‘baby’ molars are lost.
- The first set of 4 permanent molars – these will be the last teeth in the dental arch.
In total, this adds up to 24 teeth, which are normally a combination of primary and permanent teeth. Between the ages of 6 and 12, children go through a transition period known as ‘mixed dentition’, beginning with the first ever appearance or eruption of an adult tooth at 6 years old and the loss of their last baby tooth around age 12. At age 10, therefore, children may have 16 adult teeth and 8 leftover primary ‘baby’ teeth or 14 adult teeth mixed with 10 baby teeth. It all really depends on the rate of growth in each 10 year old.
Some children may have a faster rate of tooth eruption than others, meaning that a 10 year old with an abnormally fast growth rate could have a complete set of 24 permanent teeth, but this is decidedly quite rare. The total number of baby teeth and adult teeth is always changing as children grow up, and as they approach their teenage years, 24 teeth creep up to 28 as their remaining primary canines and molars are lost and replaced with 4 new adult teeth. Finally, a remaining 4 wisdom teeth bring the grown adult total to 32 teeth, with 16 in both the upper and lower jaw (although, a small number of lucky people will never even get their wisdom teeth!).
How Many Teeth Fall Out by Age 10?
By the age of 10, most children will have already lost around 5 or 6 of their baby teeth and there are still more to be lost after age 10 – that’s a lot of visits from the tooth fairy throughout our childhood! So exactly how many teeth are lost by age 10 (and beyond)? Here is the total amount of baby teeth lost in both the upper and lower jaw:
Upper baby teeth:
- Loss of central incisor (age 6-7)
- Loss of lateral incisor (age 7-8)
- Loss of 1st molar (age 9-11)
- Loss of 2nd molar (age 10-12)
- Loss of canine (age 10-12)
Lower baby teeth:
- Loss of lateral incisor (age 7 to 8)
- Loss of canine (age 9-12)
- Loss of central incisor (age 6 to 7)
- Loss of 1st molar (age 9-11)
- Loss of 2nd molar (age 10-12)
Why It’s Important to Care Well for Baby Teeth
A child’s baby teeth may only be around for a short period of time, but it’s still important to care for them as well as you would look after your adult teeth. Your 10 year old may not realize the important role their primary teeth play in later life, so make sure they are taking the best care of them while they can. Did you know that our baby teeth actually…
- Give our face its normal appearance
- Help us to develop clear speech in later life
- Help to keep us nutritional (missing or decayed baby teeth make some foods like vegetables hard to chew, which is the reason many kids begin rejecting certain vital foods)
- Gives our permanent teeth a healthy start (if baby teeth decay or become infected, this can cause dark spots to appear on the adult teeth growing beneath)
What If Adult Teeth are Delayed in a 10 Year Old?
A child’s adult or permanent teeth should normally begin appearing between age 6 and 7, but in some cases, adult teeth can develop fairly late in some children. This can be down to many things such as the position of the teeth, the amount of space needed for the teeth or individual tooth to grow and late tooth development may even be a family trait. Your child’s dentist may refer your child for radiographs to check these slow dental developments in detail and let you know if this may lead to any complications or need for treatment in your 10 year old, such as the need for braces to help the adult teeth align comfortably when they do come in.
What are the Signs that My 10 Year Old may Need Braces?
Children’s teeth can develop at different rates from one another, but in some cases, your 10 year old’s irregular dental development may point to issues that need to be rectified by having orthodontic treatment, such as the need to wear braces. Regular check ups with your child’s dentist are important for monitoring changes in your child’s dental health. Should you spot any of the following signs in your child’s teeth, a dentist may recommend a consultation with an orthodontist to find out for sure if your child needs corrective braces.
Signs your 10 year old may need braces can include:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- Teeth appear crowded, overlapping or blocked out (obscured by other teeth)
- Sucking their thumb or finger
- Difficulty when chewing or biting their food
- Biting their cheek or roof of their mouth
- Teeth that meet abnormally i.e. too close or too far apart from each other
- Their jaws and teeth may be out of proportion with the rest of their face
- Mouth breathing
- Their jaws protrude or are recessed
- Their jaws shift or make clicking sounds
If you have any concerns that your 10 year old child may be too young for braces, rest assured that most orthodontists recommend that braces are fitted between the ages of 9 and 14, since your child’s teeth are still growing and will see more benefit from the brace treatment in their adult years.