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Differences Between Primary and Permanent Teeth

Most human beings are born without teeth.  There are reported cases of babies being born with teeth, but this does not happen very often, and they usually are removed or loosen shortly after birth.  Normally, a person has two sets of teeth during their life time.  This article will focus on these two types of dentation.

Primary Teeth

These are normally called baby teeth; but, are also known as deciduous.  The word deciduous describes what these teeth do—they fall out, meaning they are temporary.  These teeth normal start growing in around 6 months of age and will continue at intervals until around 36 months.  There are ten teeth in both jaws, which equal 20 in total.  Not only do these teeth allow children to be able to chew more complex food, they also are a place holder for the permanent teeth to come in later.

There are three types of teeth in each jaw, which includes two canines like teeth, four incisors, and four molars.  From around the age of 6 these teeth begin to loosen and come out, making room for the coming in of permanent dentation.  This time when the child has a mixture of milk teeth and permanent teeth will last until around 12 years of age.  At the end of this time, there will be 32 permanent teeth, consisting of 16 teeth in both the upper and lower jaw.

Permanent Teeth

Also known as secondary teeth, new teeth known as the wisdom teeth, or back molars, erupt through the gum line.  The secondary teeth are larger than milk teeth and are meant to last the rest of the person’s life. 

The layers of enamel and other substance that makes up the tooth is thicker, and the entire tooth is a darker color than the baby or milk teeth.  Permanent teeth also have a different shape and size when compared to baby teeth.

Permanent back molars, also known as wisdom teeth, can take up to the age of 25 to fully erupt in the gum line. As an interesting side note, anthropologists now believe that wisdom teeth developed because our early ancestors ate rough, coarse foods which required more mastication. With the modern diet, and the invention of utensils, these teeth are now no longer needed to survive.  In addition, they can crowd other teeth, or cause other problems, so they are normally removed is this is a problem.


As human beings, most of us have two sets of teeth in a life time.  We are born toothless, and in a few months, we grow what is known as milk teeth.  These teeth serve us well until school age when the roots begin to dissolve, and permanent teeth then begins to push their way through the gums. 

These two sets of teeth are all that we have, and the permanent teeth are meant to last the rest of our lives.  It is important we care for them properly.

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