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By the age of three years old, most children have a full set of baby (or milk) teeth. At around five years of age, these first teeth will begin to fall out, to be replaced by newly erupting adult teeth. Some babies, however, are born with teeth already visible above the gumline; these are known as neonatal teeth. The eruption of milk teeth occurs at about the age of six months old and regularly causes teething pain in babies.

There are 32 adult teeth – compared to 20 baby teeth – and four of these are wisdom teeth, which often don’t come through until between the ages of 17-21.

Dentists such as Jonathan Alexander Abt are able to check for the presence of wisdom teeth, even before they’ve erupted, by taking x-rays. Sometimes wisdom teeth stay in the gum, or don’t erupt properly, and in these cases they often cause pain and usually have to be removed. Please see the embedded PDF for more information about wisdom teeth extraction.

The part of the tooth above the gum is covered in enamel, which is an extremely hard substance. Dentine – a sensitive substance – makes up the part of the tooth beneath the crown, which is hidden within the gum. Dentine is also very hard, but not as hard as enamel. The inner part of the tooth is called the pulp, which contains the tooth’s blood supply and nerve endings. These nerves register feelings of hot and cold in the brain, and send pain signals too.

Types of Teeth

Incisors are the four front teeth located on the top and bottom jaw. There are four canine teeth too, which are used to tear food. These are found on each side of the incisors on the top and bottom jaw.

Premolars are helpful for crushing and grinding food; they’re next to the canine teeth and there are eight in total. Lastly, there are 12 molars, six on both the upper and lower jaw, including the wisdom teeth. These are the strongest teeth, and are used to mash up food so that it can be safely swallowed.

Keeping Teeth Clean

Effective teeth cleaning is vital to keep your mouth healthy. Teeth should be brushed for approximately two minutes twice a day to prevent a build up of plaque on the surface of the teeth. The bacteria in plaque, if not removed, can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.