Updated on March 11, 2024
6 min read

How Many Teeth Do We Have?

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Teeth are essential to your bone structure and digestion. Having the correct number of teeth helps you stay healthy. Adults have 32 teeth, which is 12 more than children.

Permanent Temporary Teeth Adult Child Illustrated Comparison

How Many Teeth Do Adults Have? 

Most people begin adulthood with 32 teeth, including four wisdom teeth. In adults, there are four different types of teeth:

  1. 8 Incisors — Used to cut food 
  2. 4 Canines — Used to tear and grasp food
  3. 8 Premolars Used to crush and tear food 
  4. 12 Molars — Used to help you chew and grind food

How Many Teeth Do Kids Have?

Children have 20 baby or primary teeth. 

Primary teeth gradually fall out, replaced by permanent teeth. In some circumstances (for example, with the front teeth and premolars), permanent teeth push the baby teeth out. 

In other cases (for example, with the permanent molars), permanent teeth come through the gums at the back of the mouth, behind the last primary tooth in the jaw.

What About Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are also known as third molars. 

Third molars are the last permanent teeth to erupt. The wisdom teeth typically erupt between the ages of 17 and 21. However, wisdom teeth can erupt many years later.4

Do Wisdom Teeth Need to Be Removed? 

Wisdom teeth may not need to be removed if they are:5

  • Healthy
  • Grown in completely (fully erupted) 
  • Positioned properly and biting correctly with the opposing teeth 
  • Able to be cleaned daily
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However, in many cases, wisdom teeth do not have room to grow correctly and can cause issues. Erupting wisdom teeth can grow in at many angles in the jaw, even horizontally. This can cause dental problems like infection or pain.

When to remove wisdom teeth is not always clear. Speak with your dentist or an oral surgeon regarding the position and health of your wisdom teeth for advice.

Wisdom teeth extractions are usually suggested between the ages of 18 and 30.

Caring for Baby and Adult Teeth

Learning about proper dental care can help you keep your teeth healthy and strong.

Here’s what you need to know amount caring for baby and adult teeth:

When Does a Child’s First Tooth Erupt?

Your child’s teeth will start to erupt around 6 months old. They will typically get all their primary teeth by age 2. 

However, each child will grow and lose teeth on their timeline. Parents and caregivers should not worry if their child’s teeth do not precisely follow the patterns above.

Check with your child’s dentist if they have a delay of longer than one year. Dentists can perform X-rays to ensure that the baby and/or adult teeth are present and developing correctly.

Some children are congenitally missing a tooth or have a supernumerary (extra) tooth, causing them to have less or more than the average number of teeth. 

When Should Dental Exams Start?

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), dental exams should begin as soon as the first tooth appears. 

When this occurs, begin brushing your child’s teeth daily and schedule a dental appointment. Most children should visit the dentist by their first birthday.

When Should a Child Begin Losing Their Primary Teeth? 

The first baby teeth to shed are the lower central incisors, around age 5 or 6. The primary first molars are usually lost between 9 and 11.

Children typically lose all their baby teeth by around the age of 12.

When Do Permanent Teeth Start to Grow? 

The first permanent teeth to grow through the gums are typically the central incisors and/or the 6-year molars. They are called 6-year molars because they typically erupt when a child is around 6.

The rest of your child’s permanent teeth will erupt between 6 and 13. If they develop wisdom teeth, these usually erupt between ages 17 and 21.

What are Over-Retained Teeth?

Over-retained primary teeth are teeth that do not exfoliate at the appropriate time. This condition can be caused by:

  • Tooth agenesis (the most prevalent reason; characterized by a partial or complete absence of permanent teeth)
  • Ankylosis (when the root of the primary tooth is fused to the bone)
  • Infection
  • Trauma
  • Impacted permanent teeth

If your child’s primary teeth have not shed when expected, speak with your child’s pediatric dentist and an orthodontist. 

It may be possible to retain a baby tooth into adulthood. The crown, roots, and alveolar bone of the over-retained baby tooth must be in good condition and not cause structural or esthetic issues.

However, if your child’s tooth is ankylosed, the orthodontist may suggest that the tooth be extracted. This depends on the following, among other factors: 

  • Age of the onset of ankylosis
  • The affected tooth’s location
  • Child’s smile line
  • Child’s dental development 

Is Having Less Than 32 Permanent Teeth Normal?

While most adults have 32 permanent teeth, having fewer is possible and relatively common. Certain oral health conditions can affect the growth of your permanent teeth, such as:

  • Hypodontia — A common developmental issue, hypodontia occurs when six or fewer permanent teeth don’t develop. It is typically an inherited trait, though environmental factors can also play a role. It most frequently affects wisdom teeth.
  • Oligodontia — A rare genetic disorder in which more than six permanent teeth are missing.
  • Anodontia — A complete absence of teeth. It’s hereditary and rarer than hypodontia or oligodontia.

Treatments such as dental implants and dentures can help correct a partial or complete absence of teeth.

What Causes Missing Permanent Teeth? 

Missing teeth result from complex interactions between genetic and environmental factors.

The following may also lead to missing permanent teeth:

  • Advanced maternal age
  • Low birth weight
  • Maternal smoking
  • Rubella

Other hormonal, environmental, and infectious conditions may also be associated with missing teeth. Hypodontia is more common in females than males and occurs at a higher-than-average rate in identical twins.

Impact of Missing Teeth

Missing teeth can have various effects on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Some key consequences of tooth loss include:

  • Difficulty in chewing and digestion — Missing teeth can make it more difficult to break down your food, especially when they’re hard or crunchy. This can lead to poor digestion and other stomach issues
  • Speech impairment — If there are missing teeth in the front of the mouth, there’s a chance that your pronunciation and clarity of speech may be affected
  • Dental misalignment — Adjacent and opposing teeth may move or shift into the empty space where there are missing teeth
  • Social and psychological impact —Missing teeth can affect your self-esteem and confidence. It can also cause one to avoid social situations due to embarrassment

How to Restore Missing Permanent Teeth

There are many effective ways to restore missing permanent teeth, including:

  • Dental implants — Artificial tooth replacements surgically implanted into your jawbone
  • Dentures Full or partial sets of artificial teeth
  • Dental bridges — Dental restorations that can fill in gaps left by missing teeth
  • Preserving baby teeth — Children are often not candidates for permanent dental restorations, but it may be possible to preserve a baby tooth permanently when the underlying permanent tooth bud is missing.
  • Orthodontic braces and appliances — Braces can move the existing teeth into the spaces where teeth are missing.

The timing of treatment can be essential when planning for and managing missing permanent teeth in kids. Your child must visit a dentist regularly to stay updated about treatment timing and options.

Summary

Humans have two sets of teeth during their lifetime: baby teeth and permanent teeth. Children have 20 teeth, whereas adults have 32.

Children lose their baby teeth from ages 6 to 12 when the permanent teeth erupt. Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, typically erupt between 17 and 21. 

While most people have 32 teeth, having fewer or more is possible. Some genetic conditions may affect tooth development. Treatments for missing teeth include dental implants, dentures, and braces.

Last updated on March 11, 2024
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on March 11, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Taking Care of Your Teeth and Mouth.” National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, 2020.
  2. Aktan et al. “An evaluation of factors associated with persistent primary teeth.” European Journal of Orthodontics, National Library of Medicine, 2012.
  3. Iraqi et al. “Retained Primary Molars and Related Reasons in Umm Al-Qura University, Makkah: A Retrospective Study.” The Open Dentistry Journal, 2019.
  4. Renton et al. “Problems with erupting wisdom teeth: signs, symptoms, and management.” The British Journal of General Practice, National Library of Medicine, 2016.
  5. Salinas, T. “Wisdom teeth removal: When is it necessary?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2016.
  6. Zimmerman et al. “Physiology, Tooth.” StatPearls, National Library of Medicine, 2021.
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