Throughout your life, you will have two sets of teeth: primary (baby) teeth and secondary (permanent) teeth. At age 6-8 months, the primary teeth appear; all 20 are in place by age 3.
Permanent teeth will begin to grow around age 6, and except for wisdom teeth, are all present between ages 12 and 14. The next teeth to grow in are the 12-year molars and finally the wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth typically begin breaking through from age 17 and on. The total number of permanent teeth is 32, though few people have room for all 32 teeth. This is why wisdom teeth are usually removed.
Your front teeth are called incisors. The sharp “fang-like” teeth are canines. The next side teeth are referred to as pre-molars or bicuspids, and the back teeth are molars. Your permanent teeth are the ones you keep for life, so it is vital that they are brushed and flossed regularly and that periodic check-ups by a dentist are followed.
Practicing excellent oral hygiene is the key to maintaining good overall health – for patients of all ages! Parents must introduce proper oral care early in a child's life, as early as infancy. Parents are responsible for ensuring their children brush and floss every day, and we encourage them to lead by example.
In recent years, bacterial inflammation associated with gum disease has been linked to chronic health problems, such as stroke, coronary artery disease and premature, low birth-weight babies. Yet there are a number of things you can do to help protect your teeth and your overall health. Visiting your dentist at least twice a year to evaluate any potential problems (i.e. cavities, gingivitis, etc.) before they become more serious, visit your hygienist regularly to have your teeth cleaned thoroughly.
To ensure you and your family are practicing good oral hygiene at home, be sure to:
- Brush at least three times a day using a fluoridated toothpaste
- Floss daily
- Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet
- Stop smoking
- Discontinue the use of smokeless tobacco products
By following these steps, you can help prevent common problems, such as cavities, gingivitis, gum disease, oral cancer, as well as prohibit the development of more serious diseases that affect your overall health, including heart disease and diabetes.