A Top Orthodontist Discusses Primary Teeth and Permanent Teeth

Top Orthodontist Colts Neck, NJ

Consulting a top orthodontist about children's teeth can help set them up for lifelong oral health. These experts have in-depth knowledge of how primary teeth affect the health and alignment of permanent teeth. The following overview contains helpful information for parents on primary and permanent teeth.

The first set of teeth, also known as milk teeth, primary teeth, or baby teeth, erupt when a child is six months, while the second set, known as permanent teeth, erupts starting around six years old. The teeth undergo a predictable cycle of eruption, loss, replacement, and resorption.

As a top orthodontist will explain, there is a system in place that begins well before their first baby tooth appears. Teeth begin formation in the embryonic stage at around three to six weeks. There, gum tissue develops into tiny, opaque teeth tips. At three to four months, strong tissue begins to form around the tooth, and thin translucent roots will start to grow. About 20 completely formed teeth are already beneath the gums at birth. In rare circumstances, infants may emerge from the womb with some teeth already partly visible.

The need for two dental sets

Before explaining the distinction between milk teeth and permanent teeth, it is necessary to explore why two sets of teeth exist in the first place. Did you know tooth creation happens when the baby is still in the uterus? However, with a few exceptions, teeth do not begin to erupt until about six months after birth. Baby teeth are also milk or deciduous teeth (because they fall off eventually).

While this may be one of the primary distinctions between milk teeth and permanent teeth, that is not all! When a newborn gets their first teeth, development is just getting started. The milk teeth are easier to accommodate because they are smaller than permanent ones. This is still another major distinction between baby teeth and adult teeth.

Primary teeth are just as crucial to a child's healthy development as adult teeth. They serve a critical purpose in a child's development until the permanent teeth come in. In addition, baby teeth are crucial for the following:

  • Aid in the development of the child's bite and chewing skills, supporting the child's early nutritional development
  • Crucial for speech development
  • Ensure correct teeth alignment as the permanent teeth begin to come in
  • Prepare the jaws for the eventual arrival of permanent teeth by preserving the gap

Primary teeth boost a child's confidence and sense of self, with studies showing that kids with excellent oral hygiene and healthy teeth have greater self-assurance than those who do not brush or are missing baby teeth. Unfortunately, parents sometimes do not see the need to treat their child's baby teeth. Often, they are unaware of the importance of baby teeth to adult teeth.

Primary teeth versus permanent teeth

Primary teeth are the first set of teeth to come in after birth. Conversely, permanent teeth are the second and final set of teeth to emerge after the primary set has fallen out. The following are some of the other key differences between primary and permanent teeth:


The most noticeable difference between milk teeth and permanent teeth is their size. Primary teeth are small because they emerge early in life when the jaw is not ready to accommodate adult-sized teeth.


The second noticeable distinction between primary and permanent teeth is the number of teeth in each set. There are 32 adult teeth but only 20 milk teeth. The 20 milk teeth consist of two sets of upper and lower incisors, a set of canines for each jaw, two sets of first molars, and two sets of second molars. This number increases to thirty-two in the permanent dentition thanks to the inclusion of two sets of premolars and one pair of third molars in each jaw.


The enamel coating of primary teeth is much thinner than that of permanent teeth. Thinner enamel on primary teeth makes them more susceptible to cavities. In addition, when decay or trauma causes the loss of a portion of a tooth's enamel, there is less of the tooth's surface left for the filling material to adhere to.

In conclusion

Knowing the difference between primary and permanent teeth is crucial since it allows a top orthodontist to plan treatment better. If you have questions, take the next step and contact a dental professional.

Request an appointment here: https://www.coltsnecknjsmiles.com or call Colts Neck Center for Orthodontics & Invisalign at (732) 795-6097 for an appointment in our Colts Neck office.

Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Top Orthodontist in Colts Neck, NJ.

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