Most of us lost the last of our baby teeth years ago, but have you ever thought about why you need two sets of teeth in the first place? Both baby teeth & permanent teeth are important for your continued dental health, although there are a few key differences between the two.
Baby teeth, also called milk teeth, primary teeth or deciduous teeth, start to grow in (or erupt) when a child is about 6 months old. In all, we have about 20 baby teeth. They’re smaller than the permanent teeth we grow later, which allows them to fit comfortably into the smaller jaw of a young child.
Baby teeth are also softer & have a thinner layer of enamel than permanent teeth. That makes taking care of them extremely important, as they’re more susceptible to decay & damage. Even though they might seem less important because they’re temporary, healthy baby teeth are critical to lifelong dental health. They set the foundation for a healthy smile for life!
Adult or Permanent Teeth
Around 6 years of age, baby teeth begin to fall out, leaving space for larger permanent, or adult, teeth to grow in. These teeth are larger & stronger, & also less white, than baby teeth. This can cause some parents to think that their children’s teeth are “turning yellow,” but in reality this happens to everyone! It’s normal & expected for healthy adult teeth to be less white than baby teeth.
There are twelve more permanent teeth than baby teeth, for a total of 32. In addition to being larger than baby teeth, your permanent teeth are also stronger & have more enamel to help protect your teeth for many years.
Wisdom teeth are a type of your adult molars that usually erupt in your late teens or early twenties. Although they are meant to be permanent, most people get their wisdom teeth removed, as leaving them in can often cause crowding in your mouth & unwanted shifting of other teeth. That means that most people actually have only 28 of the 32 teeth in their mouth.
If you have any questions about your teeth or your child’s teeth, please ask your dentist during your next visit! We’ll be able to answer any questions you might have.