Facts about teeth

Teeth are part of the skeleton -the only part of the skeleton that can be seen. Unlike some animals, human teeth are replaced only once in a lifetime.

Sharks grow a new set of teeth every two  weeks!




When do babies get their teeth?  


  • The milk teeth begin to form between the sixth and eighth weeks in ‘utero’, and the permanent teeth begin to form in the twentieth week in the ‘utero’. This process means that teeth are already formed in the baby’s gums when they are born.
  • Teeth start to come through the gums when the baby is about six months old. This period is referred to as ‘teething’. 

 Family Lying on Grass

Which teeth grow first?


  • The bottom teeth usually grow before the top teeth.
  • The incisors are usually the first to come through the gums followed by the molars and then the canines.

To see the teeth appear year by year, click the link:



Why do we lose our milk teeth? What makes our teeth wobbly? 


  • New teeth start to grow under the milk teeth.
  • As the new tooth starts to grow, it pushes the milk tooth and makes it loose.
  • Eventually the milk tooth falls out to make room for a permanent tooth.
  • Some children lose their first teeth before they are five, others may be seven or eight.

Why do we need a second set of teeth?


  • The size and number of milk teeth are adequate for a young child’s needs. However, as we grow and our mouths get larger, the size and quantity of teeth are not adequate to meet our requirements. 
  • Generally, the first permanent (adult) incisors emerge when a child is six or seven. 
  • Permanent molars come through at the same time, but these are entirely new teeth and do not replace existing milk teeth. We have a total of 32 permanent (adult) teeth. 
  • The wisdom teeth are the last molars to form.

What makes my teeth the colour they are?


  • The enamel of our teeth makes them white. 
  • Enamel is the hardest and most highly mineralized substance of the body. 96% of enamel consists of mineral, with water and organic material comprising the rest. 
  • If the enamel is thin, teeth will be less white because the dentine underneath (which is a yellowish bone-like material) will show through

How are teeth needed in speech?


  • The most obvious purposes for teeth are biting and chewing, but teeth also play an important role in speaking clearly. 
  • To make the sounds associated with some letters we rely on our tongue making contact with the teeth, and for other letters, the tongue meeting with the roof of the mouth behind the front teeth. 
  • The importance of our teeth for speech is shown by the difficulty we experience in making a “th” sound with gaps between our two front teeth.

Try to say the following tongue twister without using your teeth.


A tutor who tooted the flute tried to tutor two tutors to toot. Said the two to the tutor,

“Is it harder to toot or to tutor two tutors to toot?”


Which foods are good for teeth?


  • Foods containing calcium help to strengthen developing teeth and bones.
  • There is some indication that the consumption of cheese is beneficial for actually slowing the dental decay process.
  • Milk also contains factors that protect against dental decay.
  • Also, hard crunchy foods such as raw vegetables (not toffees!) exercise the teeth to help keep them strong and healthy.

A tooth’s worst enemy is acid – either directly contained in the food and drink, or produced by bacteria that thrive on sugar and convert it to acid.


  • The best foods are those that neutralize acids, provide minerals and vitamins to repair tooth enamel and stimulate saliva.

Top 7 foods for healthy teeth


  • High fibre fruits and vegetables – high fibre foods work like a detergent in the mouth and they also stimulate saliva flow by requiring longer chewing time. Saliva is the mouth’s first line of defence because it neutralizes tooth-damaging acids and contains calcium and phosphates that help rebuild minerals leached away by bacterial acids.
  • Water – is the primary component of saliva and is important to both tooth and gum health.
  • Dairy products – Cheese helps stimulate saliva, while its calcium helps replace minerals leached from the teeth.
  • Green/Black teas – contain compounds called polyphenols that interact with the bacteria that causes plaque.
  • Nuts – many nuts contain vitamins and minerals that help your teeth. For example; peanuts (calcium and vitamin D), almonds (high levels of calcium), cashews (stimulates saliva and helps clean teeth).
  • Foods that contain vitamins A, C and D and the minerals calcium and phosphorus. These include beef, eggs, fish, potatoes, spinach, fortified cereals, tofu, leafy green vegetables, beans, whole grains and poultry.
  • Xylitol – (a type of sugar extracted from a variety of plants) –works against the specific type of bacteria that causes tooth decay. This is available from health food stores and sugarless gums contain it.

smile 4smile 5