The Development of Teeth

Humans have two sets of teeth, primary (or baby) teeth and permanent teeth, which develop in stages.  Although the timing is different, the development of each of these sets of teeth is similar.

Information you can sink your teeth into!

  • Teeth tend to erupt in parallel, meaning that the top molar on your left side should grow in at about the same time as the top molar on the right.
  • Tooth development begins long before your first tooth becomes visible.
  • The crown of a tooth forms first, while the roots continue to develop even after the tooth has erupted.
  • The 20 primary teeth are in place by age 3 and remain until around 6 years of age when they begin to fall out to make way for the permanent set of teeth.
  • Adult teeth start to grow in between 6 and 12 years of age.
  • Most adults have 32 permanent teeth.
  • Permanent teeth are larger and take longer to grow in than primary teeth.

A tooth is divided into two basic parts:

  • The crown, which is the visible, white part of the tooth.
  • The root, which you can’t see.

Your teeth contain four kinds of tissue and each does a different job.  These include:

  • Enamel, the visible substance that covers the tooth crown. Harder than bone, enamel protects the tooth from decay.
  • Dentin is found underneath the enamel, which is calcified and looks similar to bone and is not as tough as enamel.
  • Cementum is tissue that covers the tooth root and helps cement it into the bone. It is softer than enamel and dentin.  Cementum has a light yellow color and is usually covered by the gums.  The best way to protect this softer tissue from decay is by taking good care of your gums.
  • Pulp is found at the center of your tooth and contains the blood vessels, nerves, and other soft tissues that deliver nutrients and signals to your teeth.

Never take your teeth for granted and be sure to always take proper care of them.  Next time you are visiting Dr. Halsema, be sure to inquire about the state of your teeth and what you can do to improve the health of your teeth.

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