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The Kid’s Doctor: Lack of teeth before first birthday no cause for concern

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A lot of babies don't get their first tooth until around age 1.

By Sue Hubbard, M.D.

During a 9-month-old’s checkup, the child’s mother expressed concern that her daughter did not yet have any teeth.

I explained to her that this was totally within the range of normal, but she was very worried about her daughter’s lack of teeth. I reassured her that it was not uncommon; there are a lot of babies that will not get a tooth until around age 1, and late teething often runs in families. I wondered if she knew when she or her husband got their first tooth.

Upon further questioning, her real concern was that she had been told “if your child is a late teether they will also be a late reader.” Was this something her friends told her on Facebook? I thought I had heard all sorts of concerns about teeth. “My child is fussy, “My child doesn’t sleep well,” “My child drools a lot,” “My child chews on everything.” But not being able to read? There is just too much information, or rather misinformation out there.

So, it was such a relief for me to be able to tell her that I was not aware that there was any relationship between teething and reading. In fact, one of my own children had his first tooth erupt at 6 months (which is about average), and he ended up being dyslexic. My middle son did not get a tooth until about 18 months (which did worry my mother, who was ready to put money into savings for baby dentures), and he was reading before kindergarten.

See why I love my job? Something new every day. Thankfully, some of the concerns have no basis in fact and I get to reassure parents.

(Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award-winning pediatrician, medical editor and media host. “The Kid’s Doctor” TV feature can be seen on more than 90 stations across the U.S. Submit questions at kidsdr.com. The Kid’s Doctor e-book, “Tattoos to Texting: Parenting Today’s Teen,” is now available from Amazon and other e-book vendors.)