What are milk teeth?
When a baby is born, he/she has a total of 20 milk teeth that are concealed within the gums and out of which none show up until six months of age. As the kid is about three years old, all of the primary teeth show up. Among these milk teeth (also known as baby teeth, deciduous teeth), the first two teeth, which break away from the gum are the front central incisors in the lower jaw and the last ones are the second set of upper and lower molars.
What is teething?
The process of the tooth pushing against the gum and coming through is called tooth eruption or teething.
The start of this process can be quite difficult for toddlers as the gums remain sore and painful, though it should not cause any fever.
The pain can be relieved by massaging the gums with a clean finger or a clean wet cloth and wiping the chin area that is prone to getting irritated. Chilled or unsweetened teething rings also help.
How are milk teeth useful?
In the early years of their childhood, milk teeth prove to be quite essential because they help little ones in chewing their food and developing their speech. They also help the permanent teeth grow in their specific space and position.
For instance, if a temporary back tooth is lost before time then the adjacent tooth might lean and take its place causing the next adjacent to do the same. This creates a major problem and makes the teeth either erupt in a crowded jaw or emerge crooked.
It may so happen that the tooth doesn’t come out at all.
Such cases require a dentist to solve the problem by planting a false tooth that would maintain the space of the milk tooth and prevent the nearby tooth from taking its place. Milk teeth are more prone to cavities due to their teeth morphology and may even require extraction, thus it is necessary to take utmost care and precaution.
How do permanent teeth replace milk teeth?
When it is time for permanent teeth to replace the milk ones, which is about six to seven years of age, the roots of the milk teeth dissolve making them fall sooner or later. The first molars are the first ones to appear while the third molars (wisdom teeth) are the last. Permanent teeth (also known as secondary teeth or adult teeth), which can range from 28- 32 in number, are known to have fully emerged by 21 years of age; the variation depends on the number of wisdom teeth that have erupted.
These final teeth are the most important of the lot as once lost, they are never going to grow back. It is of utmost importance to keep them clean and healthy by practising a proper oral care routine.
What are the different types of teeth?
There are four types of teeth:
1) Incisors – These are the front teeth of the upper and lower jaw that have a thin cutting edge.
2) Canines – Canines are the sharp and pointed teeth next to the incisors on either side, used for tearing food.
3) Premolars – They are after the canines and have flat surfaces to help break down and chew food.
4) Molars – These are usually wider than molars with greater surface to grind food.