Having healthy teeth is an important component of our overall health, since they help us with some very essential tasks, such as eating and speaking. And you may have heard that teeth keep growing throughout life, but is that really possible? Do teeth ever stop growing?
Once permanent teeth start coming in around age 6, teeth form over the next few years and are finished growing after that. While they may appear small at first, teeth grow to maturity and are finished by your mid-teens, but they may emerge more from tissue over time after that.
So don’t listen to the rumors; teeth don’t keep growing forever. That’s why you should always take good care of them. Let’s take a closer look at the different stages of tooth growth, how your mouth shifts over time, and how you can maintain a healthy set of teeth for as long as possible.
At What Age Do Your Teeth Stop Growing?
Permanent teeth, which are also called secondary or adult teeth, start to grow in the jaws right from birth and continue growing after the child is born. An average 21-year-old already has a complete set of 32 permanent teeth, distributed to the upper and lower jaws (16 each).
However, there are cases where some people do not develop the third molars (or wisdom teeth), leaving them with a set of 28 permanent teeth.
How Do Your Teeth Develop Over Time?
Humans aren’t the only ones with two sets of teeth. Most mammals have a similar situation. The first set we develop is the temporary one (also known as milk teeth) while the second set is known as the permanent, secondary, or adult teeth.
Our teeth undergo various changes throughout our lives, but when does this process start, and what exactly occurs over time?
We are all born with our gums intact, but we don’t start developing our milk teeth set until we’re about five to eight months old. The size of the baby’s jaw means that the milk teeth set is smaller than the adult teeth set.
The incisors are usually the first set of teeth to develop. They are the teeth we have in the front with flat edges, which we use for biting. They are eight in number; four of them on top and another four on the bottom.
The next set of teeth to emerge is known as the canines. The canines are the more pointy teeth and are usually four overall, flanking the incisors.
After the emergence of the canines comes the final eight teeth which should all be developed by the time a child is two, plus or minus a few months. These teeth are known as premolars and they have larger surfaces that help us to chew.
They complete the first 20 teeth set, with ten of them coming out on top and another ten in the bottom.
The adult teeth start to develop when a child reaches around the age of six, and they will develop to replace the milk teeth, which are only temporary. During this time, the milk teeth start to loosen and fall out. The adult or secondary teeth take a few years to finally start coming out.
Adult teeth are the larger versions of our milk teeth but the only difference is that by the time they start coming out, the jaw bone is equipped to accommodate them.
The (eight) incisors are the first set of adult teeth to emerge, with our (four) permanent canines coming next in the queue, and then the (four) premolars.
Also, additional teeth emerge as our jaw develops. This usually starts when we’re between ages six and eight, when we get our first set of molars, followed by our second molar set, which emerge at around age 12 or 13. So, as we approach our teen years, we already have a set of 28 permanent teeth.
Different Types of Teeth
These are the teeth at the front that are located both in the lower and upper jaws. Every incisor has a thin cutting edge and the ones at the top and the bottom work together (like a pair of scissors) to cut the food.
These are the teeth we use to tear food. They are the pointy teeth present on both sides of the incisors in both the lower and upper jaws.
These are the teeth that grow next to the canines. Ideally, the full adult teeth set will contain eight premolars with four on top and another four on the bottom. The premolars are what we use to crush and grind the food we eat.
The molars are bigger than the premolars and they exist towards the back of the mouth. They have flat, broad surfaces that help to grind food.
What are teeth made of?
Teeth are not bone, even though they, together with our bones, contain over 99% of the calcium in our body. Our bones and teeth have some similarities but while the bone is living tissue, the teeth are not.
The outermost layer of your teeth is even harder than bone, without any living tissue. This layer is called enamel, and it is the hardest substance in the whole body.
A tooth is made up of four different types of tissue, namely dentin, pulp, enamel, and cementum.
Why are my teeth so short?
As we grow older, most of us notice our teeth getting shorter. This shouldn’t happen, should it?
Well, as we continue to grind food for years, our teeth gently wear away. If we lose some teeth, the remaining ones are left with more work to do, and they end up wearing away even faster.
Many people realize in their 70s or 80s that their front teeth look pretty different from how they used to. If these changes cause issues, a dentist can assess the situation and may suggest implants.
Why don’t our teeth grow back if they fall out a second time?
There are only two sets of teeth in a human’s lifetime: the baby teeth, which are usually 20 in number, and the permanent or secondary teeth, which are normally 32. A permanent tooth will not grow back if you lose it.
Even though you’ll probably have 32 permanent teeth for a good while, they might not be around forever. To avoid permanent damage to our precious teeth, we must maintain a daily oral hygiene routine. If you lose a permanent tooth, the only option to replace it is to get an artificial replacement.