How much do we know about our teeth? We use them every day for talking or chewing; we brush them and smile at the mirror when checking how we look.
Today, let’s dive into a simple-sounding question that is actually very important: How many teeth do we have? Keep reading to find out.
How Many Teeth Do Babies Have?
As we all know, children are born without any teeth. At around 6 months of age, the first teeth start to come in, during the teething process. Most parents will know this can be a challenging period, with some pain and discomfort for the baby.
At the beginning of teething, babies can’t use their new teeth effectively yet, so it’s good to still feed your baby soft and mashed foods.
Teething usually ends by the age of three, and at that time, children will have 20 baby teeth. Eventually, children lose those and get permanent, adult teeth.
Why Do We Have Baby Teeth?
Simply speaking, children’s jaws aren’t big enough for the full set of pearly whites of an adult. As they grow and their mouths get bigger, more teeth come in to fill up the extra space.
It is also important to note that, while baby teeth will eventually fall out, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of them. It is good to wash your baby’s teeth and gums with a warm baby towel. Start brushing their teeth for 2 minutes at a time, when they are almost fully grown.
How Many Teeth Do Adults Have?
As we lose our baby teeth and new ones fully develop, the final count should be at 32. However, most people end up removing their wisdom teeth in early adulthood, so a lot of adults actually have around 28 teeth.
There ought to be the same number of teeth on both jaws, which means either 16 or 14 on either jaw. Furthermore, we can separate them into four categories, from the middle to the edges of your smile:
• Incisors. As the name suggests, incisors’ use is primarily for cutting and holding food. There are 8 of them, and they are also usually the first baby teeth to fall out.
• Cuspids. We have 4 cuspids, also known as canines, due to their pointy appearance. This shape allows them to grab and tear food effectively.
• Premolars. Also called bicuspids, these teeth look similar to cuspids, and serve the same function. There are 8 of them, and they always come in later, as permanent teeth.
• Molars. Their use is primarily chewing and grinding food. In total, adults should have 12 molars, the third row being the wisdom teeth which usually get taken out. The reason why wisdom teeth are often removed is overcrowding, as some jaws are still too small for 32 teeth. Overcrowding, in turn, has an increased risk of periodontal disease and misaligned teeth.
Does Everyone Have 32 Teeth?
As previously mentioned, a lot of people have 28 teeth. However, many conditions can cause someone to have more or fewer teeth than normal.
Having less than 32 teeth can be related to tooth loss due to bad oral hygiene or poor eating or behavioral habits.
Perhaps you consume too much sugar, grind your teeth often, or have a smoking habit. Tooth decay can also happen due to disorders like ectodermal dysplasia or gastrointestinal reflux.
In addition, there is a rare genetic condition — tooth agenesis. As opposed to losing teeth, those who have this condition fail to form teeth, which causes several of them to not grow at all. In rarer and more extreme cases, it can even cause a complete absence of teeth.
Conversely, hyperdontia is a condition in which a person has more teeth in their mouth than normal. These supernumerary teeth most commonly occur either as an extra baby tooth or as an extra permanent incisor between the two central incisors.
Many conditions, such as Gardner’s syndrome, Fabry disease, or cleidocranial dysplasia, can cause hyperdontia. Luckily, these conditions are rare, with the majority of cases being limited to a single tooth.
How do we, generally, deal with these conditions? If you have trouble eating due to missing teeth, it is possible to acquire dental implants. Even if you feel like you cannot afford to get implants for all missing teeth, you don’t require all of them to improve chewing. And as for supernumerary teeth, dentists usually do not recommend removing them.