How Many Teeth does a 3-year-old Have

A 3-year-old typically has 20 primary teeth, also known as baby teeth. By age three, most children have all of their primary teeth. These include eight incisors, four canines (cuspids), and eight molars in each jaw.

Primary teeth are necessary for proper chewing and speech development and are important for helping guide the growth of adult teeth. The eruption of these primary teeth begins around 6 months of age and is usually completed by age 3.

During this period, parents should ensure that their child is practicing good oral hygiene to protect the health of their new teeth and gums.

What is Child Teething?

  • Teething is when a baby’s primary teeth emerge through the gums.
  • It typically begins around 6 months of age but can start as early as 3 months or as late as 12 months.
  • The process lasts until all 20 of their primary teeth have come in, usually completed by three years of age.
  • During this time, babies may experience sore or swollen gums, drooling, and fussiness. They may also want to chew on objects to soothe their gums.
  • Over-the-counter teething remedies and infant pain relievers can relieve these symptoms. Cold foods, such as smoothies or yogurt, may also provide some relief.
  • Parents should monitor their child’s teething process and contact a pediatric dentist if they notice any unusual symptoms.

Types of Teeth in a 3-Year-Old:

  • 8 Incisors
  • 4 Canines (Cuspids)
  • 8 Molars

Functions of teeth

Chewing: Teeth help to break down food into smaller pieces that can be more easily digested.

Speech Development: The teeth and tongue help form words by changing the shape of the mouth.

Guiding Growth: Primary teeth act as spacers for adult teeth, helping to ensure a proper fit when they eventually come in.

Self-Esteem: Healthy, strong teeth can boost self-confidence in children of all ages.

How Teeth Are Structured

  • Enamel: This hard outer layer is the most visible part of teeth and protects them from daily wear.
  • Dentin: Below the enamel lies the dentin, which helps to support the tooth structure.
  • Pulp: At the center of each tooth is a bundle of nerves and blood vessels known as pulp. This provides nutrients and sensation to the tooth.
  • Cementum: The cementum covers and protects portions of the root not covered in enamel.
  • Periodontal Ligament: This connects each tooth to its socket in the jawbone, allowing it to move slightly when chewing or speaking.

Care of baby teeth

  1. Brush twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
  2. Clean between teeth daily with dental floss or another interdental cleaner.
  3. Rinse the mouth after eating and drinking sugary foods or beverages.
  4. Visit the dentist regularly for professional cleanings and examinations.
  5. Avoid giving young children sweetened drinks in bottles or sippy cups, as this can cause the decay of baby teeth.
  6. Limit snacks throughout the day to prevent cavity formation.
  7. Discuss any questions with a pediatric dentist as needed.

Following these tips, parents can help their children maintain healthy teeth and gums. Proper dental care is essential to ensure that adult teeth come in properly and that children can enjoy years of good oral health.

Why Is It Important to Care for Baby Teeth?

  • Preserves Space for Adult Teeth:

A child’s primary teeth act as spacers, helping adult teeth to come in properly.

  • Prevents Malocclusion:

If baby teeth are lost prematurely, misalignment can occur, which increases the risk of malocclusion (poor bite alignment).

  • Reduces Tooth Decay:

Baby teeth are more susceptible to decay than adult teeth due to their thinner enamel. Ensuring proper care and cleaning helps to prevent cavities.

  • Improves Self-Esteem:

Having healthy, strong teeth boosts children’s self-confidence and improves social interactions.

  • Establishes a Lifetime of Good Oral Health Habits:

Good oral hygiene habits from a young age will benefit children.

Taking a proactive approach to caring for your child’s baby teeth can help them achieve a lifetime of good oral health. With proper care and regular visits to the dentist, your 3-year-old will have healthy primary teeth and gums, as well as the skills needed to maintain their adult teeth in the future.

Nutrition and Your Child’s Teeth 

Limit Sugary Foods and Drinks:

Sugars from snacks and beverages can contribute to tooth decay.

Increase Calcium Intake:

Calcium helps to strengthen teeth and bones. Good sources of calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese, and leafy green vegetables.

Avoid Starchy Snacks:

Starch-rich foods such as chips and crackers can increase the risk of cavities.

Eat Crunchy Fruits & Vegetables:

Fibrous fruits and vegetables help scrub away food particles stuck between teeth while providing essential vitamins and minerals for healthy teeth and gums.

Following these tips can help ensure your child’s teeth and gums remain healthy. Remember that your child needs to visit the dentist regularly for cleanings and examinations, even if adult teeth will eventually replace their primary teeth. Good oral care is essential for healthy baby teeth – and lifelong dental health.

  • FAQs

What teeth do 3 year old get?

At around 3 years of age, children typically have 20 primary teeth. These include eight incisors, four canines, and eight molars.

How many times a day should I brush my child’s teeth?

Children should brush their teeth twice daily with an appropriate toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Flossing daily and rinsing the mouth after eating or drinking sugary foods and beverages is also important.

What is the best way to prevent cavities in baby teeth?

Good oral hygiene habits are the best way to prevent cavities in baby teeth. This includes brushing twice daily, flossing daily, limiting sugary snacks and drinks, and visiting the dentist regularly for cleanings and examinations. In addition, parents should monitor their child’s diet to ensure they are getting proper nutrition. Eating crunchy fruits and vegetables and dairy products can help promote healthy teeth and gums.

Can a 3-year-old have more than 20 teeth?

Yes, a 3-year-old can have more than 20 teeth. Some children may experience an early eruption of permanent or extra primary teeth, a normal variation in tooth development. If this occurs, visiting the dentist for an examination and assessment is important. In some cases, the extra teeth may need to be removed.

Do 3-year-olds get molars?

Yes, 3 year old typically get the first set of molars. These are primary or baby molars and will eventually be replaced by permanent molars. Practicing good oral hygiene habits is important to ensure these teeth remain healthy. Regular visits to the dentist also help to identify any potential problems with the molars.


Taking care of your 3-year-old’s teeth is essential for their health and well-being. Following the instructions above, you can help set your child up for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.