Our teeth are vital not just for having a beautiful and attractive smile, but they are equally essential for allowing us to eat and speak properly. That is why nature gifts us with two sets of teeth – the primary, or the milk teeth, and the permanent teeth. So, what is the difference between milk and permanent teeth, and what are they used for? This article explains everything you need to know about different types of teeth and their functions.
How Many Teeth Does a Child Have?
The teeth of a child are called the milk, or the primary teeth. The first milk tooth appears when the baby is about six months old. This process continues until all the baby teeth have erupted inside the mouth of the baby. Most children have a complete set of 20 milk teeth. Around the fifth year, the milk teeth start to fall out, one by one, and gradually resulting in the replacement of the primary teeth with the milk teeth starting from the incisor teeth.
What Are Wisdom Teeth For?
The wisdom teeth, as their name suggests, are the among the last teeth permanent teeth to appear in the oral cavity. These teeth are named such because they appear at an age when one starts to obtain wisdom and maturity in life (Allegedly) – mostly between the ages of 17 and 21, as per the American Dental Association.
The wisdom teeth appear at the back of the mouth and are a part of a group of teeth called the molars. Together with the first and the second molar teeth, the wisdom teeth – also called the third molar – are responsible for breaking the food into smaller particles so that it can be easily digested by the gut.
Despite their utility, the wisdom teeth are prone to causing various dental problems such as impaction, tooth crowding, and teeth cavities and periodontal problems in the neighbouring teeth. One of the most common problems associated with partially erupted wisdom teeth is pericoronitis – a painful condition in which the soft tissues around an impacted wisdom tooth get inflamed frequently. This is also one of the reasons why many people have to get their wisdom teeth removed.
What Do Our Canines Do?
The canines are the long, sharp and pointed teeth that look similar to the “dog teeth”. Each jaw has two canines, one on each side, located just at the corner of the mouth. The canines are present both in the primary and permanent human dentitions. Due to their pointed shape, the canine teeth are used to shear or cut foods such as chicken or meat.
Apart from their essential role in chewing, the canines play a vital role in determining facial aesthetics. Optimally positioned and angulated canine teeth have a positive effect on one’s overall facial features and smile. This is why orthodontic treatments put great emphasis on the alignment on the canine teeth – which are also considered as the corners of our mouth.
What Do Our Molars Do?
Unlike our fron teeth, which are longer and have thin and sharp biting edges, our back teeth are shorter but are considerably wider. As a result, they tend to have wider chewing surfaces or tables, which consist of pointed edges at each side called the cusps. These cusps, coupled with the grooves and ridges present on the chewing surfaces allow the molar teeth to grind the food into smaller pieces. Hence, while the front teeth are responsible for shearing the food, the back molar teeth further grind the food particles into very small pieces which can be easily digested and converted into energy.
Do Babies Have Adult Teeth Waiting?
Both the milk and adult teeth form at the same time. Tooth development starts even before birth. The developed teeth remain covered by the “tooth buds”. Around six month after birth, the first tooth, usually the lower incisor appears in the oral cavity, followed by eruption of the remaining teeth in a certain order. This process continues till three years of age.
Interestingly, the permanent teeth lie just above the milk, or the deciduous teeth – waiting for them fall-off so that they can take their place. Once a milk tooth falls off, its permanent successor gradually starts grow outwards – gradually becoming visible inside the oral cavity. The only difference is that while there a full set of teeth in the kids consists of 20 teeth, the adults have 32 teeth. The set of adult teeth have an additional tooth type – the premolars – two on each side of a jaw. Also, the permanent teeth have an additional molar tooth called the wisdom tooth – making a total of 12 molar teeth in the adult dentition. You can know more about primary and permanent human dentition here.
Do Your Permanent Teeth Grow As You Get Older?
Unlike other body organs which possess varying capacities to grow or heal themselves, our teeth, once formed, do not grow. Once our teeth appear in the oral cavity, they do not grow any further. However, they may change their size, height or shape if one has an imbalanced bite or parafunctional habits like bruxism. Also, our teeth cannot heal themselves. This is why if a tooth becomes damaged, your dentist has to restore it with a suitable filling material. Alternatively, if a tooth becomes badly damaged, your dentist will have to extract it and replace it with an implant-supported artificial tooth. Now you know why dentists ask you to look after your oral health and keep your teeth healthy – your teeth won’t heal by themselves.
One of the crucial ingredients of an attractive smile is a set of pearly white and healthy teeth. While regular oral hygiene is helpful in maintaining optimal oral health, regular visits to your dentist can go a long way in making sure that you don’t suffer from dental problems like teeth cavities or periodontal disease.
If you are living in Victoria, Chelsea or Belgravia and looking for a dentist, then look no more. Elizabeth Street Dentist caters for your entire family’s dental needs offers all dental services under one roof. What’s more, you can also avail a free consultation appointment with Dr. Monica Amin, our dentist to discuss your dental problems and their solutions.
So, what are you waiting for? Visit us today and let us keep your teeth healthy and shining!