When was the last time you wondered ‘how many teeth do adults have hidden in their mouths?' Chances are, not recently.
A pretty smile is considered to be one of the most beautiful features of a person and indicative of good oral health. Yet, most of us, however appreciative we may be of a smiling face, are careless when it comes to our teeth.
Stop whatever you are doing and think for a second: When was the last time you actually thought about your teeth? It was probably when you had to get rid of that painful wisdom tooth, or that one time when your teeth started hurting really bad.
However, if you find yourself reading this article, chances are you have finally acknowledged the importance of teeth and are seeking answers to the question ‘how many teeth do people have?'
Let's find out!
Table of contents
- 1 How many teeth does a human have?
- 2 When do permanent teeth come in?
- 3 Do all adults have 32 teeth?
- 4 How many teeth do we need?
- 5 Tips for keeping your teeth healthy
- 6 Conclusion
- 7 FAQs
How many teeth does a human have?
In this section, we will discuss the exact number of teeth in the human mouth.
We humans have two separate sets of teeth in our mouth in a lifetime. One set replaces the other as we grow up. In our childhood, we have baby teeth, or deciduous teeth, that are replaced by permanent teeth in early adolescence.
Let's discuss baby teeth first.
How many teeth do children have?
Between the ages of 6 months to approximately 33 months, children develop a whole set of teeth known as baby teeth. Also known as milk teeth, these are temporary and meant to fall out as we grow up.
How many baby teeth do we acquire in childhood? The answer is 20. Out of these, 10 are situated in the top jawbone or the maxillary arch, while the other 10 are at the bottom in the mandibular arch.
Based on their unique shape, structure, and function, baby teeth are divided into three classes:
- 8 incisors
- 4 canines
- 8 molars
Incisors are the front four teeth in both the upper and lower jaws. There are eight of them and they are primarily used for cutting and slicing food. Out of these, the two teeth in the middle are known as the central incisors, and the two on the left and right sides are called lateral incisors.
Also called cuspid teeth, canine teeth are used for tearing and cutting food. Canine teeth are similar in number, in both the primary and secondary set of teeth. Two canine teeth are present in the upper jaw and two in the lower jaw.
Molars are known for their broad grinding surface which helps in smashing food and making it easier to swallow. There are a total of eight molars in children, four of which are known as first molars and the other four as second molars.
First molars come right after the canine teeth and second molars come next to the first molars as the last teeth in the back of the mouth.
Why is it important to look after baby teeth?
Many people believe that the first set of teeth is not as important as they are eventually going to fall out. This is a common misconception for multiple reasons.
First, both sets of teeth have similar underlying structures, especially the pulp or nerve which is an extremely sensitive part. Since the baby teeth are smaller in size and not sufficiently mineralized, any infection or decay reaches the nerve pretty quickly and can be intensely painful. This infection, if neglected, can also reach your permanent teeth growing inside the bone, affecting them to their core.
Sometimes, this dental infection becomes so severe that it becomes imperative to remove the tooth, which produces a gap in the teeth. Since jaws are constantly changing, the teeth move themselves and the gap produced by the removal of baby teeth may get closed. This lack of space makes it difficult for the underlying permanent tooth to erupt.
The tooth could remain buried in the gum as an impacted tooth that could be seen on an x-ray. If such a tooth does erupt somehow, it would be in the wrong position, as you see in people with crooked teeth. In such circumstances, your child would need orthodontic treatment later on.
How many teeth do adults have?
Now, we will move on to discuss the total number of adult teeth.
There are a total of 32 teeth in an adult set. Of them, 16 teeth are in the upper jawbone (maxillary arch) and 16 are in the lower jawbone (mandibular arch). Unlike baby teeth, these teeth are divided into four different classes based on their shape and function:
- 8 incisors
- 4 canines
- 8 premolars
- 12 molars
An adult has eight incisor teeth similar to baby teeth. There are two central and two lateral incisors in both upper and lower jaws. These incisors help with the grinding and crushing of food before swallowing it.
You have four canine teeth in your permanent, or adult, set. These can be found on the right and left sides of the lateral incisors in both the upper and lower jaw. The sharp surfaces of the canines help in the shredding of food particles.
Premolars are the teeth that differentiate the adult set from the baby set of teeth. There are a total of eight premolars that are located between the permanent canines and the permanent molars.
On either side of your mouth, you will find two premolars sitting beside the canines in both the upper and lower jawbones. They occupy the position that has been vacated by the 1st and 2nd molars in your baby set of teeth.
There are a total of 12 molars in an adult set of teeth, six of which are situated on top and six in the bottom on both upper and lower jaws. These teeth are used for grinding and chewing food to make it easier to swallow and digest.
Molars have a broad chewing surface which makes it easier to perform their function. The third set of these molars, comprising the last teeth in the back of the mouth, are the wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt and are often removed due to pain occurring during their eruption.
Dentists have a way of numbering these teeth to keep track of them. If you want to see how dentists do this, watch Dr. Tamisha Denis discuss it below:
When do permanent teeth come in?
Now that you know how many adult teeth you have, you might be wondering when exactly your permanent teeth come in.
In normal circumstances, all of the baby teeth fall out and are gradually replaced by permanent teeth by the age of 12 or 13. Some of your permanent teeth appear before others in a particular pattern. This pattern has been summarized in the table below as per the guidelines of the American Dental Association.
Do all adults have 32 teeth?
No, not all adults have 32 teeth. Some people may have fewer teeth than that and the most common reason for this lack is the presence of wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are the last to erupt in your mouth and are so-called (although inaccurately) because they were thought to be connected to the actual development of wisdom.
Around four wisdom teeth begin to erupt around the ages of 18-25 years. However, some people may only develop three, two, or even one of them in their entire lifetime. There are also a few lucky ones who may have no wisdom teeth at all. In these people, the total number of teeth will naturally be 28.
In short, it’s the number of wisdom teeth in your mouth that decides how many teeth you will have in total. Depending on this, the number could range from 28-32. For more interesting dental facts like these check out our article here about dental facts and statistics.
How many teeth do we need?
You must be thinking if we could survive with 20 teeth in a baby set, do we need all 32 teeth in our mouths? Do we need to replace teeth if we lose them somehow?
We have established by now that there are 32 teeth in our mouths, each of which has a specific role and function. When you chew your food, 80% of the work is done by the first molars. Second and third molars work together with the first molars and assist them in their job.
If you lose some of your teeth for whatever reason, the workload will be automatically re-distributed among the remaining teeth. This may burden them over time, leading to diseases of the gum and tooth.
You might develop tooth decay, cracks and fractures and sometimes even gum disease. Therefore, a lost tooth should be replaced as early as possible. A little carelessness on your behalf might lead to the loss of many teeth following the loss of one.
It is a popular saying in the medical world that people who have all their teeth will live a longer life. Although initially used as a marketing tactic, recent researchers have found a strong relationship between the number of teeth in the oral cavity and the general health of a person.
For example, if you develop heart disease, one of the most important questions asked by the healthcare practitioner in history will be about any tooth disease. This is because there is a strong relationship between gum disease and cardiovascular problems. Similarly, research has also proven a direct impact of gum disease on joints and eyes.
The crux of the matter is that taking good care of your oral hygiene and not losing any teeth can eventually lead to a healthier and longer life.
Tips for keeping your teeth healthy
When it comes to oral hygiene, brushing is the most important part. According to dentists, you should brush at least twice a day. The type of toothpaste is also very important. Fluoride toothpastes are often considered better than toothpaste without fluoride.
A very common cause of tooth problems is improper brushing. You might be brushing twice a day but find that you are still suffering from tooth decay due to inappropriate brushing techniques. You can read our article about proper brushing if you have any doubts.
Additionally, you may also follow the tips mentioned below:
- Add flossing to your daily oral hygiene routine
- Use a mouthwash, preferably a fluoridated one, at least once a day.
- Less sugar intake is beneficial to both your dental health and overall health.
- If you have a bad habit of grinding teeth and clenching and biting on hard objects, try to avoid it.
- Visit your dentist regularly. Twice a year is enough if your teeth don’t demand extra care.
Baby and adult teeth are two sets of teeth that you get over a lifetime. There are 20 teeth in the baby set and 32 teeth in the adult set. Each of these teeth in both sets is equally important and, therefore, must be taken care of if you wish to enjoy good oral health.
Why are wisdom teeth removed?
The eruption of wisdom teeth is a painful process for most of us. Pain is usually due to decreased space in the mouth which leads to eruption at an angle or a partial eruption. Also known as impacted wisdom teeth, these teeth can adversely affect the jaw and cause improper alignment of the rest of the teeth. There would also be an increased risk of decay or plaque. Due to all these problems, around 60% of people get their wisdom teeth removed.
Is it okay to have 28 teeth?
Yes, having 28 teeth is perfectly normal. In fact, your mouth only has space for 28 teeth so it becomes painful when 32 teeth try to fit in that space. The extra four teeth are the wisdom teeth that could be safely removed in case they cause pain.
How can I number my teeth?
If you want to number your healthy and diseased teeth, the best way is to visit a dentist. Dentists use charts to make notations and mark healthy and diseased teeth. In the U.S., the dentists use the Universal System for this purpose.
How many teeth do kids lose?
All kids acquire a temporary set of milk teeth up to 33 months of age. All of these are meant to fall out one by one over a period of several years in order to be replaced by permanent teeth. So, it would not be incorrect to say that kids lose around 20 milk teeth in their childhood.