stages of teeth eruption

Mixed Dentition Phase: What Happens to Your Child’s Teeth During This Transition?


Last Modified: August 8, 2023


As parents, we strive to ensure the well-being of our children in every aspect, and dental health is no exception. One crucial stage that often goes unnoticed is the mixed dentition phase, also affectionately known as the “ugly duckling stage.”

This transitional period marks an important milestone in your child’s dental development, encompassing changes that set the foundation for a lifetime of healthy teeth. In this informative guide, we will delve into what exactly happens during the mixed dentition phase and how you can navigate it with ease.

Understanding the Mixed Dentition Phase

The mixed dentition phase typically occurs between the ages of 6 and 12, when a child’s mouth harbors a blend of both primary (baby) and permanent (adult) teeth. This phase serves as a bridge between the two, representing a vital juncture in dental development. During this time, several noteworthy changes take place:

  • Loss of Primary Teeth: As permanent teeth begin to erupt, the roots of primary teeth gradually dissolve, leading to their natural exfoliation. This process paves the way for the emerging permanent teeth, as they find the space they need to grow.
  • Eruption of Permanent Teeth: The emergence of permanent teeth is a hallmark of the mixed dentition phase. This includes the eruption of incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. The timing of each tooth’s appearance can vary, but it generally follows a predictable sequence.
  • Spacing and Crowding: With the arrival of permanent teeth, changes in spacing and crowding become evident. Sometimes, temporary gaps appear as the jaw grows to accommodate the larger permanent teeth. Conversely, crowded teeth might require orthodontic intervention to ensure proper alignment.
  • Dental Care Transitions: As your child’s dental composition changes, so should their oral hygiene routine. Proper brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups become even more critical during this phase to maintain healthy gums and prevent cavities.

The Ugly Duckling Stage: Embracing the Transition

The mixed dentition phase is aptly referred to as the “ugly duckling stage” due to the seemingly awkward appearance that can arise from the coexistence of primary and permanent teeth. The variation in size, color, and shape between the two types of teeth often gives the smile an unconventional look. However, it’s important to emphasize that this stage is a temporary and necessary part of dental development.

While your child might express concern over their changing smile, it’s crucial to reassure them that this is an entirely normal phase that every individual experiences. Encourage them to embrace their unique journey towards a healthier, more beautiful smile, and remind them that this transition is a testament to their growth.

Navigating the Mixed Dentition Phase: Tips for Parents

  • Educate and Communicate:Openly communicate with your child about the changes they are experiencing. Explain the purpose of the mixed dentition phase, assuring them that the temporary appearance changes will eventually lead to a stronger, healthier smile.
  • Oral Hygiene:Reinforce the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene habits. Teach your child how to brush and floss effectively to prevent cavities and gum issues. Consider using kid-friendly toothpaste and toothbrushes to make oral care more appealing.
  • Regular Dental Visits:Schedule regular visits to the dentist to monitor your child’s dental development. Professional guidance can help identify any potential issues early on and ensure timely intervention if needed.
  • Dietary Habits:Encourage a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals essential for dental health. Limit sugary snacks and drinks to prevent cavities, as the newly erupted permanent teeth are particularly susceptible.
  • Orthodontic Consultation:Around the age of 7, consider consulting an orthodontist to assess your child’s dental alignment. Early intervention can address alignment issues before they become more challenging to treat.


The mixed dentition phase is a significant and transitional period in your child’s dental development. While it may bring about temporary changes to their smile, these transformations are essential for the growth and alignment of permanent teeth.

By understanding the key aspects of this phase and providing the necessary support and guidance, you can ensure your child navigates this dental journey with confidence. Embrace the changes, encourage proper oral hygiene, and celebrate each step toward a future of radiant smiles and lasting dental health. By: Dr. Nayanika Batra

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