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Permanent Teeth – What You Need to Know About the Permanent Set of Teeth

A natural human set of teeth always has 28 to 32 permanent teeth. This span is due to the fact that four permanent teeth may not always be present from the start. That is because a permanent set of teeth does not always have all of the wisdom teeth. Sometimes there is only one or even none.

How Many Permanent Teeth Do Humans Have?

A permanent adult set of teeth initially consists of four quadrants in which the same number of permanent teeth can always be found. Starting in the middle, there are two incisors on each half of the jaw, in both the lower and upper jaw. This is followed by a canine tooth. It has by far the longest root of all teeth. The two premolars and two molars differ mainly in size and number of roots. The primary teeth have only one, while the molars are anchored in the jaw with two or even three roots. If a permanent set of teeth is complete, the wisdom tooth follows at the back of the jaw.

The Correct Numbering

The dentist numbers permanent teeth according to their position in the jaw, each clearly identifiable by two digits. The teeth of the upper quadrants always begin with the number 1 (right) or 2 (left), those of the lower quadrants with 3 (left) or 4 (right). The second digit determines the position of the tooth from 1 (first incisor) to 8 (wisdom tooth). If a natural dentition in a quadrant has no wisdom tooth, this numbering ends at 7.

If the dentist speaks of 23 ("two three"), then he means the left, upper canine. 48, for example, is the right, lower wisdom tooth. If permanent teeth have to be extracted, the numbering does not change. A tooth always keeps the same number, even if a permanent set of teeth is no longer complete.

Different Teeth, Different Functions

Permanent teeth do not only have a very variable appearance, the functionality is also very different depending upon tooth type. The flat incisors are ideal for grabbing and biting. The canine tooth holds the food. Our ancestors had a longer and more impressive canine, because they often had to struggle with raw food. Both the molars and the premolars are ultimately responsible for decently comminuting and chewing the food. So a complete permanent set of teeth is the perfect tool to get along with all kinds of food.

When Do Permanent Teeth Break Through?

A natural set of teeth is subject to a change of teeth. In children's smaller jaws there are still milk teeth, which are gradually replaced by permanent teeth. It can take up to two decades until a permanent set of teeth is complete.

The set of milk teeth still consists of 20 teeth, namely two incisors per quadrant, one canine and two premolars. The change of teeth begins unnoticed at the age of approximately 6 years, because the first permanent teeth are the front molars, which break through behind the milk teeth.

In the course of the following years, more and more permanent teeth appear. From front to back, the roots of the milk teeth gradually dissolve and make room for the following permanent teeth. Only then, at the age of 12, do the second molars follow. However, another decade can pass until a permanent set of teeth is completely present. Wisdom teeth often do not break until long after the 20th birthday.

Care Is Important for a Healthy, Natural Set of Teeth

If you want to keep your permanent teeth for as long as possible, you should look after them accordingly. Some parents make the mistake of not paying as much attention to the health of the milk teeth, because these will fall out anyway. However, caries on milk teeth ultimately also damages permanent teeth and should be avoided at all costs. So if you regularly use a toothbrush from an early age, you can keep your natural teeth into old age. 

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