Timings of Permanent Tooth Emergence in Children of Rural Vanuatu, Melanesia Timings of Permanent Tooth Emergence, Vanuatu

Main Article Content

Elizabeth Webb
Lisa Woods
Carol Stewart
Peggy Fairbairn Dunlop
Jenny Tangis
Jenny Stephens
Elaine Dennison


set standard, permanent teeth, Vanuatu, Oceania, Melanesia



Global patterning and timing of permanent tooth emergence is influenced by ethnicity, with no known timings reported for ethnic Melanesian children living in the tropical archipelago of Vanuatu.


To determine timings of permanent tooth emergence and sequencing for children who reside in rural Vanuatu.


Children aged 4-17 years (n=1026), part of a larger oral health cross-sectional study, were examined recording all permanent teeth present, across four spatially separated islands. Binary logistic modelling established children’s median age of emergence of each permanent tooth for each study area.


The median emergence of first permanent molars for girls is 4.9-years and 5.3 -years for boys. In all locations, children had all permanent teeth emerge by age 11 years (excluding 3rd molars). Clinically important differences exist for permanent tooth emergence by study area.


Permanent teeth emerge earlier for Ni-Vanuatu children compared to both Melanesian children of Papua New Guinea as well as other ethnicities across Oceanic countries. These results can be used as a set standard for Vanuatu. Early tooth emergence suggests oral health education programmes should target pregnant women with clinical preventive strategies commencing for their children before 5-years of age.

Abstract 143 | PDF Downloads 13


1. Almonaitiene R, Balciuniene I, Tutkuviene J. Factors influencing permanent teeth eruption. Part one – general factors. Baltic Dental and Maxillofacial Journal. 2010; 12:67–72. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21063135/
2. Esan T, Mothupi K, Schepartz L. Permanent tooth emergence: Timing and sequence in a sample of Black Southern African children. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2018; 167:827–839.
3. Sindelarova, R, Zakova, L, Broukal, Z. Standards for permanent tooth emergence in Czech children. BMC Oral Health. 2017; 17:140.

4. Postma T, Van Wyk P, Ayo-Yusuf O. Empirical support for a fissure sealant placement timeframe protocol for black South Africans. South Africa Dental Journal. 2008;63(6):344-346.
5. Malcolm L. Growth and development of the Kaiapit children of the Markham Valley, New Guinea. Am J of Phys. Anthrop. 31: 39-52
6. Malcolm L. Deciduous dental development and age assessment of New Guinean Children. J Environ Child Health. 1973; 19:234-239.

7. Barker D. A study of the eruption times of the deciduous and permanent dentitions of the children of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. 1965. Report submitted to the Department of Public Health. Port Moresby.

8. Friedlander H, Bailit H. Eruption times of the deciduous and permanent teeth of natives on Bougainville Island, Territory of New Guinea: A study of racial variation. 1969. J Human Biology 14(1): 55-65.
9. Willems G, Lee S, Uys A et al. Age estimation based on Willems method versus new country-specific method in South African black children. Int J Legal Med. 2018. 132(2):599?607.
10. Tangis, J. In: The Smiles for the Pacific Dental Congress. Lautoka, Fiji. August 2018
11.Vanuatu National Statistics Office. Post Tropical Cyclone Pam Mini-Census Report. Port Vila. Vanuatu. 2016. Available at:

12. Pietrusewsky M. The Earliest Lapita Skeleton from the Pacific: A Multivariate Analysis of a Mandible Fragment from Natunuku, Fiji. The Journal of the Polynesian Society. 1985. 94 (4) 389- 414. https://www.jstor.org/stable/20705952

13. Van Dijk N. 1993.The Evolution of the Polynesian Phenotype: An Analysis of Skeletal Remains from site To-At-36, Tongatapu, Tonga. M.A. Thesis, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

14. Helm S. Secular trend in tooth eruption: a comparative study of Danish schoolchildren of 1913 and 1965. Arch Oral Biol. 1969; 14:1179–119.
15. Smith H. Standards of human tooth formation. Advances in Dental Anthropology, New York: Wiley-Liss Inc; 1991.143-168. http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/90867
16. Diamanti J, Townsend, G. New standards for permanent tooth emergence in Australian children. Australian Dental Journal. 2003; 48(1): 39-42.

17. Kanagaratnam S, Schluter, P. The age of permanent tooth emergence in children of different ethnic origin in the Auckland Region: A Cross-Sectional Study. New Zealand Dental Journal. 2012;108(2):55-61.
18. Leroy R, Bogaerts K, Lesaffre E, Declerke D. Impacts of caries experience in the deciduous molars on the emergence of the successors. Eur J Oral Sci. 2003; (111):106-110. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12648261/

19. Man-Son-Hing M, Laupacis A, O’Rourke, K. Molnar FJ, Mahon J, Chan KBY, Wells G. Determination of the clinical importance of study results. Journal Gen Intern Med. 2002; (17):469–476.
20. Smith RJ, Kolakowski D, Bailit H. Variation in dental occlusion and arches among Melanesians of Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea II Clinal variation, geographic micro differentiation and synthesis. 1978. American Journal of Phys Anthrop; (48):331-342. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/637132/

21. Gaur R. Singh NY. Emergence of permanent teeth among the Meiteis of Manipur, India. 1994. American Journal of Human Biology; (6):321-328