February 3, 2010

Tooth Development 101

The Basics of Tooth Development

Teething begins around six months of age. That is when an infant’s baby, or primary, teeth begin to break through the gums. In a few years (most often by the age of three), the full set of twenty baby teeth will have grown in. When they do, the first stage of tooth development is done.

The next stage begins around age five or six. That’s when baby teeth are pushed out by the adult, or permanent, teeth. This stage ends around twelve or thirteen. By then, twenty-eight of the thirty-two adult teeth will have grown in.

The final four teeth, known as wisdom teeth, do not break through the gums until some years later. This happens most often between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one.

Dental Anatomy 101: The Different Types of Teeth

Some brief descriptions of the different types of teeth will help you with the basics of dental anatomy. The middle four teeth of the top and lower jaws are the incisors. The key role of these eight spade-shaped teeth is to cut and chew food.

The four teeth that flank the incisors on both jaws are the canines. The canines are used to tear food. They draw to a sharper point than do the incisors.

Before permanent teeth develop, the two teeth on the far side of each canine are known as molars. Once the full set of adult teeth has grown in, two premolars border the far side of each canine. These are followed by two molars (three, once the wisdom teeth have grown in).

The premolars and molars are the largest and sturdiest of all the teeth. They feature more than one root and are flat-surfaced. The key role for premolars and molars is to crush, grind, and chew food.

The Importance of Dental Hygiene and Tooth Development

Both proper tooth development and the health of your teeth depend on good oral hygiene. This means you must brush, floss, and get regular dental check-ups.

Brush your teeth twice daily to reduce dental plaque build-up. Floss daily to clean plaque and bits of food out of the areas between teeth that are hard to reach with a brush.

Regular dental exams and cleanings not only help to keep teeth their whitest; they also give the dentist a chance to spot early signs of troublesome developments such as gum disease and tooth decay.

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