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Your teeth from birth to adulthood

Teeth are a big development milestone for babies when their first milk teeth come through. The baby teeth make way for adult teeth, which can last a lifetime if they are well looked after.

Here are facts about teeth from birth to adulthood.

Baby teeth

The child's mouth contains 20 temporary teeth, called primary teeth, baby teeth or deciduous teeth, consisting of the following teeth types:

  • Four second molars
  • Four first molars
  • Four cuspids (also called canine or eye teeth)
  • Four lateral incisors
  • Four central incisors

For each set of four teeth, two teeth are located in the upper arch (one on each side of the mouth) and two are located in the lower arch (one on each side of the mouth).

Permanent teeth

The adult mouth contains 32 permanent teeth, consisting of the following teeth types:

  • Four third molars (also called wisdom teeth)
  • Four second molars (also called 12-year molars)
  • Four first molars (also called six-year molars)
  • Four second bicuspids (also called second premolars)
  • Four first bicuspids (also called first premolars)
  • Four cuspids (also called canine or eye teeth)
  • Four lateral incisors
  • Four central incisors

Teeth functions

Your teeth are used for:

  • Biting and tearing. The central incisors and lateral incisors are primarily used for biting and cutting and canine teeth are primarily used for tearing food.
  • Grinding and crushing. The premolars, molars and wisdom teeth are primarily used for chewing and grinding food.

Internal structure of teeth

Each tooth consists of three main parts: the crown, the neck and root.

  • The crown is the visible part of the tooth; it is the portion that lies above the gum tissue. A protective layer called enamel covers the crown.
  • The neck is the area of the tooth between the crown and the root.
  • The root is the portion of the tooth that extends through the gum and into the bone of the jaw.
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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on July 29, 2014

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