Dental News

Premature babies get teeth later, but catch up

10/4/2000  NEW YORK — Babies born prematurely get their first tooth later than do children born full term, according to research published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, Fetal Neonatal Edition.

Babies born prematurely get their first tooth at about nine months compared to six months for babies born full-term, according to study author Dr. Maria Backström and her colleagues at the department of pediatrics at Tampere University Hospital in Finland.

However, when researchers looked at the premature infants’ corrected age — the age they would have been if born full term — their first tooth tended to erupt around seven months (range from two to 16 months), roughly the same as those children who were not premature (range from two to 12 months).

The first tooth erupted later in preterm girls than in preterm boys. Preterm girls also had their first tooth appear about two months later than the girls born at full term, although boys were on target for their corrected age.

Both groups of children — boys as well as girls — had about 16 teeth at two years of age. There was no difference between the groups of children in terms of their permanent teeth.

Overall, the findings suggest that premature infants get teeth at the appropriate corrected age, and quickly catch up to their peers as they get older. The study is the first to look at the eruption of baby and permanent teeth over time in children born prematurely.

Edited by Chris Smith
Managing Editor,