Humans have two types of teeth: the so-called milk teeth and permanent ones. As each characterises a particular phase in life they are in many ways different. Mainly, the difference is in tooth number, as there are 20 deciduous teeth in respect to 32 permanent ones. Moreover, they differ in shape and size, and as milk teeth have a different structure they are more prone to fracture and cavities, having also a different colour and root shape.
All these differences are due to the need to fulfil different tasks during different life phases, comprising mostly in different nutrition types.
The eruption of milk teeth occurs between the sixth/eight month of a baby’s life and should be completed by the second year, although this varies significantly among individuals, just as it is individual the time when these teeth will start to fall, although usually occuring at the age of six. The first tooth to be replaced is in most cases the lower molar, followed by the anterior teeth, while the other molars will start to fall last.
This process is fundamental for the future health of teeth as it determines their position. Thus, in order to prevent or correct possible problems it is important to follow with care the passage from milk to permanent teeth. In fact, it is at the moment of eruption of permanent teeth that irregularities can be noticed, such as wrong positions and malocclusion, which allows for a fast onset of corrective measures.
Between the age of 12 and 13 the switch to permanent teeth should be complete, while the eruption of the last ones can occur at the age of 17 to 20, when the third molars appear. These can though never erupt or they can appear at a much older age.
Although milk teeth stay with us for just a few years we still must take care of them. In fact, they are a perfect polygon for exercising dental hygiene and getting used to regular visits to the dentist, but also as future oral health depends largely on theirs.