As you age, your teeth age with you. The teeth don’t begin to erupt in the mouth until an infant reaches about 6 months of age or later. That set of teeth is different than the permanent, adult set of teeth a person will eventually have. Even though baby teeth (or deciduous teeth) will eventually fall out, they must be taken care of just as well as the permanent teeth. As an adult, your teeth can change color, hardness and for some patients, the teeth may even fall out. However, the American Dental Association tells us that you can keep your permanent, adult teeth throughout your lifetime; they don’t have to fall out with old age! Learn about your teeth from infancy through the adult years and how to take care of your teeth throughout your entire life.
Infants are not born with their teeth. Their bodies are constantly growing, and they will end up growing in the teeth around 6 months of age or later. Generally, infants have their lower front teeth erupt first, then the upper two front teeth. Gradually they will grow the teeth on top next to the front two teeth, and then the bottom. An infant’s mouth will continue to erupt teeth on the upper and lower jaw from front to back. These baby teeth are also known as “deciduous” teeth, just like the deciduous trees that will eventually lose all their leaves to grow new ones.
An infant needs their teeth cared for just as an adult does. It’s smart to clean the gums of the mouth when the baby is teething in case some teeth pop through. Once you notice there are teeth in the mouth, they must be gently brushed each day, morning and night to prevent tooth decay.
An infant will eventually have 20 teeth erupt in the mouth, which is different from an adult’s 32 teeth. You will notice that the baby teeth are small and are more spaced out that an adult smile. This is because the baby’s mouth and jaw is growing, and space needs to be made for adult teeth that will eventually grow in. A child will start to lose their teeth around age 6 or 7. Most children will lose their baby teeth during the elementary years, but some children may lose them later than that. What’s cool about the mouth is that the teeth start to fall out in the same order that they grew into the mouth.
The front teeth are generally the first teeth to be lost and so on from front to back of the mouth. Just know that baby teeth are supposed to fall out. In their place, your teeth will grow in and grow closer together. They will fit snug against one another until you eventually have 32 teeth.
Most people have lost all their baby teeth by the time they are teenagers. This is also a popular time when adolescents begin to wear braces to straighten their teeth. Most adults have 32 teeth in their mouth. This number includes the wisdom teeth. However, not everyone has wisdom teeth and not everyone has all 4. You can still have a healthy adult mouth if you only have 28 teeth, as many people have the 4 wisdom teeth molars taken out.
The adult years (and teenage years) with your permanent teeth are some of the most crucial. This is a time when tooth decay and gum disease runs rampant, as many teens and adults don’t take proper care of their teeth. It’s vital that your teeth are brushed and flossed everyday. If plaque has a chance to sit on the teeth, your tooth enamel will erode and become week. Your gums will also become irritated, and with advanced gum disease, the teeth will fall out. None of that has to happen though if you practice proper oral hygiene habits.
Many people believe that tooth loss is inevitable the older you get, but that’s just not true! You never have to lose your natural teeth. Most people lose their teeth with age because they are not properly cared for. If this is the case, then of course your teeth will fall out. To avoid tooth loss, you simply have to be vigilant with brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist. As the teeth age, you will notice that they become more yellow. This is the inner dentin of your teeth showing through your tooth enamel as it thins out. Thinning enamel is normal as the teeth age.
For many elderly, they have one or more teeth missing. If there are many teeth missing, then dentures are a good fix for restoring a smile once more. The ADA tells us that dentures are removable appliances that replace your missing teeth. These are generally only used if many teeth are missing. If only a few teeth are missing, dental implants or bridges are the go-to option for restoration.
The teeth may age over time, but that doesn’t mean that you have to lose them! The best way to keep your teeth healthy and to keep them throughout your life is to brush and floss them on a daily basis. This is the best way to avoid tooth decay. We stand by the American Dental Association’s recommendation to see your dentist at least twice a year if not more. Why? Because only a dentist can detect cavities and remove tooth decay so it doesn’t spread. Taking care of your oral health only takes a few minutes every day, but it’s worth it to keep your smile all throughout your life. If you are due for your comprehensive exam and cleaning, call Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies today at (970) 223-8425 to schedule your appointment!