You probably know that your teeth help you smile, talk, and eat the food you need to survive. But there’s also a lot about teeth you probably don’t know.
Keep reading to learn more!
The first teeth we get as babies are called milk teeth, primary teeth, or baby teeth. Babies start developing teeth before they’re even born, but the teeth aren’t visible until the baby is 6-12 months old.
Once the first tooth comes in, more quickly begin to appear. Most kids have a full set of teeth by the age of three. There are 20 teeth total in this first set.
When children are around 5 or 6 years old, their teeth start to fall out one by one. You’ve probably experienced this.
Losing a tooth can be scary at first, but there’s a reasonable explanation – the milk teeth are pushed out by permanent teeth growing in.
By the age of 12 or 13 (sometimes earlier), most kids have lost all of their milk teeth and have a full set of permanent teeth.
You have more permanent teeth than milk teeth: 32 in all. The four wisdom teeth are the last to come in, usually between the ages of 17 and 25. Some people never grow wisdom teeth.
Parts of a Tooth
The crown is the part of your tooth you can see.
Each crown is covered in a substance called enamel, which is very hard and tough. It’s actually the hardest material in the body! Its job is to protect the inner parts of the tooth, which are very sensitive.
Below the enamel is dentin, which is also a hard substance (but not as hard as enamel). It protects the inside part of your tooth, called the pulp.
The pulp contains nerve endings and blood vessels. Have you ever had a cavity or eaten something very cold? The part of your tooth that hurts is the pulp.
The nerve endings send messages to the brain like, “Ouch! It’s too cold!” or, “Something is wrong with this tooth.”
The blood vessels in the pulp supply the tooth with nutrients to keep it healthy.
Cementum covers and protects the root of the tooth, which is under the gums. Your gums are the soft, pink tissues that also help protect the root.
Types of Teeth
These are your front teeth, and there are four on the bottom and four on the top. They cut your food into small chunks that are easier to swallow.
These are the sharp, pointy teeth next to your incisors. There are two on the bottom and two on the top. They help you tear food, especially chewy foods like meat.
The premolars, also called bicuspids, are located next to your canine teeth. There are four premolars on both the top and the bottom.
These teeth are bigger, ridged teeth that are stronger than your incisors and canines. They crush food and grind it up.
Molars are located in the back of your mouth, and there are four on both the top and bottom. These teeth are the strongest, and they grind food until it’s safe for you to swallow.
These are the last teeth to come in, and some people never get wisdom teeth (also called third molars) at all.
There are four total, one in each corner of the mouth. Wisdom teeth sometimes must be removed because they can crowd and damage other teeth, causing pain.
Fun Facts About Teeth
Experts believe wisdom teeth may have been needed by people millions of years ago, who had larger jaws and ate food that needed a lot of chewing, like raw meat.
Don’t forget to floss! If you don’t floss, you miss cleaning 40% of your tooth surfaces.
Right handed people chew food on the right side of their mouths, and left-handed people chew food on the left side.
Like fingerprints, tooth prints are unique to each person. This is why dental records can be used to identify people.
The average person spends 38.5 days brushing their teeth during their lifetime.