February 3, 2010

Permanent Teeth

We have two sets of teeth over the years. Over time, our baby, or primary teeth are pushed out by adult, or permanent, teeth. Most kids have twenty baby teeth. Adults have thirty-two permanent teeth.

Permanent Teeth Development and Dental Anatomy

Molars are the first adult teeth to break through the gums. These tend to appear at six or seven years of age (hence the name “six-year molars”). Molars are adult teeth, but they do not push out any of the baby teeth. Since they come in so early, some people fail to take good care of these (hopefully) permanent teeth.

Your molars play a key role in the position of other teeth. They also help give your face its shape. Thus, they need your best oral care efforts from the time they first come in.

As you grow, adult teeth push the baby ones out. This starts around the age of five or six and is over by age twelve or thirteen. By then, twenty-eight of the thirty-two adult teeth will have grown in.

The four teeth that remain to grow in are known as wisdom teeth. These do not break through the gums until some years later, most often between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one.

Often, wisdom teeth must be pulled.  The size of the jaw is just not large enough for them. There isn’t room for them to break through the gums fully. There also isn’t room to allow for proper tooth alignment if they do break all the way through.

Permanent Teeth and Dental Hygiene

Adult or baby, your teeth need you to do all you can to keep them well. The keys to good adult oral hygiene are brush, floss, and get regular dental check-ups.

Brush your teeth twice a day to reduce dental plaque build-up. Floss after meals to clean dental plaque and bits of food out of the areas between your teeth.

Lastly, visit your dentist every 6 months. Professional exams and dental cleanings not only help to keep your teeth looking great, they also give your dentist a chance to spot early signs of gum disease, tooth decay, and other health problems.

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