What Are the Most Important Differences Between Baby Teeth and Adult Teeth?

Dentist Blog

Do you know the differences between your children's teeth and your own teeth? Although getting your kids to care for their teeth in the right manner can be a challenge, without your help, their teeth may suffer. That's why it is important that you understand just how baby teeth differ from adult teeth. By understanding the differences, you will have a better idea of what approach to take.

While there are many differences between baby (primary) teeth and adult (secondary) teeth, the following three differences are the most important in terms of dental care.

Baby Teeth Have Softer and Thinner Enamel

The main difference that all parents should be aware of is that the enamel of baby teeth is both softer and thinner than that of adult teeth. What does this knowledge do for you? Because enamel is like a coat of armour that protects teeth, and baby teeth have less of it, they are more susceptible to acid attacks than adult teeth.

How does an acid attack occur? When a child eats or drinks a sugary treat, the bacteria in their mouth turn those simple sugars into bite-sized pieces. Those bacterial organisms then devour those little pieces. And of course, like all living things, once they have eaten, bacteria produce a waste product. Unfortunately for teeth, the waste product of oral bacteria is acidic, and it eats away at the enamel.

Thinner and softer enamel means faster decay. Remember this when your children reach for sugary snacks.

Baby Teeth Are Placeholders for Adult Teeth

Did you know that baby teeth are like the person in a queue that keeps your place while you run to get something you forgot? Adults have 32 teeth in total, whereas children begin with 20. However, it is important that those baby teeth remain in place until the adult teeth are ready to come through, a process that starts approximately at the age of six.

This is because the adult teeth that form in a child's growing jaw behind the baby teeth use the roots of the baby teeth as pathfinders. When your child's jaw is large enough, the adult teeth in the jawbone push through the bone and gradually nudge the baby teeth out of the way so they can take their place. This process starts with the central and lateral incisors.

However, if your child loses a baby tooth too early, the adult teeth that have yet to form in the jaw will no longer have a guide. As a result, they may come through in the wrong place and cause your child's bite to become crooked. The only way to correct a crooked bite is with orthodontic treatment.

Keep these important facts in mind when helping your children to take care of their teeth. For more information on children's dentistry, you can contact a dentist in your area.


18 October 2019

Dental Health: Not To Be Taken For Granted

As a retired dentist, I work with charities which visit developing countries and educate children about dental care. It gives me great satisfaction to revisit these communities and see how proud the children are of their efforts. I am acutely aware that good dental hygiene can help prevent a range of serious conditions when these children become older. I started this blog because it greatly distresses me that many people in Australia do not seem to care for their teeth as much as children in these poor communities. This is happening despite ready access to items like toothbrushes and toothpaste which are luxuries in the places I visit. It is my hope that this blog encourages you not to take dental health for granted. My greatest wish is that you can be as inspired as the children I see in my charity work. Please read on and enjoy.