Babies start to get their first teeth in around the age of six months to one year old. By the time they are about three years old, babies have about 20 primary teeth. And around the age of six, those baby teeth will start to fall out while the permanent teeth come in.
While your child will lose their 20 primary teeth, they will get 28 permanent ones over the next six years or so, with four wisdom teeth coming in later, around age 17 or even in the early 20s .
So why do humans have baby teeth in the first place, and how are they different from adult teeth? Let’s find out.
Why Humans Have Baby Teeth
Baby teeth help your child chew and speak just like adult teeth. These teeth are necessary for chewing and speaking, but babies don’t yet have room for their permanent teeth, so baby teeth hold space for the permanent teeth until the jaw and head get large enough to accommodate them. Most mammals have two sets of teeth, which makes humans and other animals that have two sets of teeth diphyodonts.
The Differences Between Primary Teeth and Adult Teeth
You may have noticed that children’s teeth tend to be more uniform in size and whiter than adult teeth. The adult teeth that come in later will have more defined ridges and sharper canines than baby teeth. Permanent teeth also won’t be as white as baby teeth.
Baby teeth also aren’t as durable as permanent teeth. They have a thinner layer of enamel than adult teeth, which means they are more prone to tooth decay than adult teeth—making it even more important to keep your child’s regular visits with their dentist .
Another significant difference between baby and adult teeth is that baby teeth will fall out eventually, while adult teeth are meant to last for life. Generally, all primary teeth should be gone by age 12.
Is Caring for Baby Teeth and Adult Teeth Different?
Both baby teeth and adult teeth need to be brushed daily to prevent tooth decay. However, you should use a significantly smaller amount of toothpaste and a smaller toothbrush for your child’s dental care. Generally, fluoride toothpaste isn’t recommended until your child is three years old .
Children should have their teeth flossed daily as soon as they have two teeth that touch. And just like adults, children should have dental exams and cleanings every six months to check for tooth decay and protect their smiles.
Although there are many similarities between primary teeth and permanent teeth, these two sets of teeth have their differences. Caring for both sets of teeth is imperative to ensure proper development of your little one’s smile!