How Many Teeth Do We Have?
Do you know the answer?
How many teeth do adults have?
What about children, how many teeth do they have?
Okay, you probably don’t often stop to ask yourself these questions.
Although chances are if you are a parent, your child may have asked you!
At Urban Dental it often surprises us how many patients don’t know how many teeth they have, despite the importance that we give to our smile every day!
Now, you could quickly run your tongue around your teeth and try to count them, but then you would also have to stop and think, “Hang on, did I have teeth out for braces?” Or “Have I still got my wisdom teeth?” Suddenly, that simple question has just gotten more complicated.
So, how about we just give you the answer?
How many teeth do people have?
Asking how many teeth people that have isn’t necessarily straight forward. This is because children and adults have a different number. And this probably won’t come as a surprise, but… adults have more teeth!
In our life, we are given two sets of teeth.
Our first set of teeth are our baby teeth, which some people call milk teeth. But us dental folk often refer to them as either the primary teeth or deciduous teeth.
Eventually, though, our baby teeth are lost and replaced by a new set of teeth. More teeth then start growing behind our baby teeth. These are our second and final set of teeth, known as our adult teeth. But they may also be called our permanent teeth or secondary teeth.
Now, before we go too much further, it is worth noting that we will be talking about the exact number of teeth a human generally should have.
We know that sometimes people have teeth extracted, or they have other dental abnormalities or anomalies which can cause some variation to this number.
So, let’s start by looking at the number of teeth children have.
How many baby teeth do humans have?
Well, if you said 20, then you would be correct!
Humans have 20 baby teeth.
They start to come through (erupt) from around 6 months of age.
Generally, by the age of 3, they should all be in their place.
There will be 10 teeth at the top and 10 at the bottom.
Each of these 20 little teeth not only have their own name and number, but they also have a role and function to play depending on the type of tooth which they are.
So, what are the different types of baby teeth?
When it comes to the baby teeth, we have 3 main types:
8 incisor teeth
4 canine teeth
8 molar teeth
Baby teeth are not designed to last forever, though. Eventually they become wobbly and fall out – what we call exfoliate.
However, during their time in the mouth, they have many important roles to play. And one of their most important roles is to act as placeholders for the adult teeth.
Which brings us now to the adult teeth!
How many teeth do adults have?
The answer is… 32!
There are 16 up the top and 16 down the bottom.
Now, you may be wondering, “If we have 20 baby teeth, then how do we end up with 32?”
Well, it is simple.
Adult teeth do not just replace lost baby teeth, they also start growing at the very back next to the baby molars. This first happens at around the age of 6.
When we are about 6 years old, our first adult molars or 6-year-old molars erupt. Then at around the age of 12, another set of molars come through next to the first adult molars. These are known as the second adult molars or 12-year-old molars. Finally, somewhere between the age of 18-24, the third adult molars come through – which are more commonly known as wisdom teeth.
Between our baby teeth falling out and our adult teeth coming through, the number of teeth can fluctuate.
During the time, when there is a mix of baby teeth and adult teeth, we have what we call a mixed dentition.
But by around the age of 12-13, most of the adult teeth will have come through. Except for the wisdom teeth of course – we still have a few years before they start to make their appearance!
By early adolescence we have 28 adult teeth. BUT once the wisdom teeth arrive, we will have 32 teeth!
Now just like the baby teeth, there are different types of adult teeth with different roles and functions to play in our mouth.
There are 4 main types of adult teeth:
8 incisor teeth
4 canine teeth
8 premolar teeth
12 molar teeth
As you can see, there is a bit of variation from the baby teeth, since we now have more molar teeth. But we also see the addition of the premolars.
Which brings us to the last question of…
Why do we have different types of teeth?
Teeth all have different functions and purposes according to where they are in the mouth!
So, let’s find out what their purpose and function are:
Are located at the front of our mouth – they are front teeth!
There are 4 incisor teeth up the top and 4 of them down the bottom.
They help us bite and cut into food, as they have a sharp edge. And they also play a big role when we smile.
Are next to our incisors.
There are 2 up the top and 2 down the bottom.
They have sharp points on them helping us to be able to tear our food.
Are sometimes called bicuspids, as they have 2 cusps.
In adult dentition, premolars are positioned between the canine teeth and the molars
Premolars replace the baby molar teeth when they are lost.
Their role is to help with the crushing and tearing of food.
Are the teeth at the back.
They are used for chewing and grinding our food, as they have a larger surface and multiple cusps to help in this process.
At Urban Dental, we like to think of the teeth as a sports team, where there are different players who have different roles and functions to play within the team based on their unique shape, size, and position in the mouth!
Hopefully now the next time you play trivia, or your child asks “how many teeth do we have?”,you will recall this article and be able to confidently say we have 20 baby teeth and 32 adult teeth!
And may be for bonus points, you will be able to share your knowledge of the different types of teeth we have.
At Urban Dental, we think it is important for everyone to know how their smile works!
Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 07 3839 9488 to arrange an appointment.
And remember to follow us on social media or check back regularly as we continue to explore dental matters that matter to you!
From all the Urban Dental team, thank you for reading! And if you enjoyed this piece, please feel free to share it with your friends and family!
Australian Dental Association. 2016. Teething chart. URL: https://www.ada.org.au/getattachment/Your-Dental-Health/Resources-for-Professionals/Resources-for-Children-0-11/When-the-teeth-come-marching-in-teething-chart/When-the-teeth-come-marching-in,-teething-chart.pdf.aspx. Accessed: 22 April 2020.
Queensland Government: Queensland Health. 2008. Healthy teeth for life fact sheet: timing for baby and adult teeth. URL: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0029/156197/htfl_timing_teeth_v2.pdf. Accessed: 22 April 2020.
Raising Children. Dental care for school-aged children. URL: https://raisingchildren.net.au/school-age/health-daily-care/dental-care/dental-care. Accessed: 22 April 2020.
Health Direct. 2019. Pregnancy birth and baby: how you baby’s tooth develop. URL: https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/how-your-babys-teeth-develop. Accessed: 22 April 2020.
Victoria State Government Better Health. 2018. Teeth development in children. URL: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/teeth-development-in-children.Accessed: 22 April 2020.
Dental Health Foundation. Tooth types. URL: https://www.dentalhealth.ie/children/toothdevelopment/types.html. Accessed: 22 April 2020.
Pennsylvania Dental Association. Anatomy of teeth. URL: http://www.padental.org/Online/Public/Children/Anatomy_of_Teeth.aspx. Accessed: 22 April 2020.
The information in this article is for general guidance only. It does not constitute professional advice, and should not be relied on in making any decisions that may affect your general and oral health. Because it is intended only as a general guide, it may contain generalisations. You should obtain professional advice from a registered health care professional if you need advice.