How Many Teeth Do We Have?
Do you know the answer?
How many teeth do adults have?
What about children… how many teeth do children have?
Okay, so 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 Miranda Dental Health 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 have isn’t necessarily straight forward. This is because children and adults have a different number. And now 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. But also, more teeth start growing next to our baby teeth at the back. 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.
But we know that sometimes people have had teeth extracted, or there have been other dental abnormities or anomalies which have caused there to be 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
and generally by the age of 3 they should all be in their place.
There will be 10 teeth at the top and 10 down the bottom.
Now each of these 20 little teeth has not only 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.
However, baby teeth are not designed to last forever and eventually they become wobbly and fall out – what we call exfoliate.
However, during their time in their 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 is 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.
The time between when our baby teeth are being lost and when our adult teeth are coming through, and the number of teeth can fluctuate.
During this 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!
So, 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 within our mouth.
So, let’s find out what the different types of adult teeth are!
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. As 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?
Well, it is because 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:
- Incisor teeth:
- 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 to be able to bite and cut into food, as they have a sharp edge. And they also play a big role when we smile.
- Canine teeth:
- 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.
- Premolar teeth:
- Are sometimes called bicuspids, as they have 2 cusps.
- In an 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.
- Molar Teeth:
- 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 Miranda Dental Health, we like to think of the teeth as like a sports team… where there are different players who have a different role and function to play within the team based on their unique shape, size and position in the mouth!
So, hopefully now the next time you are at trivia, or your child asks “how many teeth do we have?”, we hope that you will be able to recall this article and be able to confidently say we have 20 baby teeth and 32 adult teeth!
And maybe for bonus points… you will be able to share your knowledge of the different types of teeth we have.
At Miranda Dental Health, we think it is important for everyone to know how their smile works!
Should you have any questions though then please don’t hesitate
to contact us on 02 9524 7080 to arrange an appointment.
And remember to follow us on Facebook or check back regularly as we continue to explore
dental matters that matter to you!
From all the Miranda Dental Health team, thank you for reading!
And if you enjoyed this piece then 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 your baby’s teeth 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.