Most of our organs and body parts are formed before birth and simply develop and grow as we age. In many cases their physical form remains fairly consistent as it begins to fully develop. The tooth, however, has a life cycle of its own—completely unique from any other body part. From 20 primary teeth to 32 permanent teeth, the evolution of the tooth is quite fascinating.
Our teeth actually begin to form about two months after conception. Tiny buds from the mouth lining grow into the jaw and are the beginning phases of what is known as primary teeth. The incisors tend to erupt first anywhere from 8-14 weeks of age, but the timing and the order varies from kid to kid. Regardless of the timing and order, however, it’s important to start an oral hygiene routine even before the teeth come in as gum and teeth issues can still occur in babies.
The primary teeth remain steadily in place until it’s time for the permanent teeth to make their debut. Children are usually around six years old when their primary teeth start to loosen in preparation for the permanent teeth. Again, this process could be different from child to child and some may not even develop some of their adult teeth altogether. In a time frame of about 7 years, 20 primary teeth are replaced by 28 permanent teeth. Wisdom teeth usually form by the age of 21, rounding out the total number of teeth to 32.
Daily chewing and aging of the teeth can seriously affect the life cycle of the tooth. Not to mention there are other age related issues that can bring the life of a tooth to an end. Older teeth are also vulnerable to periodontal disease, which means that even if the tooth itself is healthy, the bone and gum that anchor the tooth can become seriously infected and the tooth can fall out.
Evolution of the Tooth
Dentists say that there is not an evolutionary dead end for the elderly tooth. They point out that people are more aware of the importance of dental health and faithfully brush after meals and floss every day. Some dentists predict that dentures will become as obsolete as wooden false teeth in the tooth life story.