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The Differences Between Baby Teeth and Permanent Teeth

Baby Teeth and Permanent TeethHave you ever noticed that baby teeth look like they're whiter than adult teeth?  Or maybe you knocked out a baby tooth when you were a child, but when you had a similar accident when you were older, your permanent tooth got chipped rather than getting knocked out.

The two scenarios above can be explained by the differences between adult and permanent teeth.

There are many differences between baby teeth and permanent teeth, but before I get into all of the differences, let's take a closer look at the teeth of that little girl pictured above:

Baby Teeth and Permanent Teeth

In the picture above, there are six permanent teeth that are visible.  Can you spot them?

They are the two top front teeth, the two bottom front teeth, and the two molars on the bottom in the very back of her mouth.  You can refer back to this picture to get a visual representation of the differences that I talk about below.

The Differences Between Permanent Teeth and Baby Teeth

1 - The enamel and dentin are thinner in baby teeth, and the pulp is bigger relative to the rest of the tooth. This means that if your child gets a cavity, it will travel much faster to the nerve of the tooth. This is one more reason why it's important to take your child to the dentist before they turn one year old and get routine checkups thereafter.

Not sure what enamel, dentin, and pulp are?  Read my previous article about the anatomy of a tooth.

2 - Permanent teeth are more yellow than baby teeth. Take a quick look at the picture above and you'll see that the six permanent teeth that are visible  don't look nearly as white as the other baby teeth.

3 - Baby teeth have shorter roots - because of this they aren't anchored as well into the bone and may fall out more easily if your child falls on a hard step or hits their mouth on the coffee table.  The shorter roots also give the permanent teeth more room to develop underneath the baby teeth and make it easier to dissolve the roots of the baby teeth when the permanent teeth are ready to come into the mouth.

Find out what to do when a baby tooth gets knocked out.

4 - Baby teeth fall out - If you take good care of your adult teeth you can keep them for your entire life.  Just because baby teeth fall out, it doesn't mean that they aren't important.  If you've been staying up late at night pondering this question, click the following link to find out why baby teeth are important.

5 - Permanent teeth have mamelons.  Mamelons are the small bumps that give the permanent incisors a serrated look when they first come into the mouth.  If you look closely at the girl in the picture above, you can see the little bumps on the edges of her four permanent front teeth.  Mamelons quickly wear away as long as the teeth fit together properly.

Learn more about what mamelons are and what to do if you still have them as an adult.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are definitely some differences between adult and permanent teeth. These differences can not only affect the appearance of the teeth, but can also affect what happens to a tooth when you suffer an injury to the mouth.

Do you have any questions about baby teeth or permanent teeth? I'd love to hear what you have to say in the comments section below! Thanks for reading.


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47 Comments |  Leave A Comment

  1. Ok, so, I'm 12. Almost, at least. I'm always paranoid that my permanent teeth will rot. I'm paranoid about that now, too. And, I grind my teeth. Any suggestions? PLEASE HELP!

    • Hi Malorie - The best way to keep your teeth from rotting is by brushing and flossing. If you are grinding a lot, especially at night, you can go visit your dentist and ask them to make you a night guard (occlusal guard) to protect your teeth from grinding. That is just an appliance like a clear retainer, but thicker so that it prevents your teeth from rubbing together when you grind.

      I hope that helps, Malorie. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for your comment!

  2. I'm seeing a lot about mamelons on permanent teeth, but nothing on having them on primary. My son had them on his teeth, and they wore away very fast except for one on his top front tooth. I'm trying to explain this to my husband, because he thinks our son has a chipped tooth. Thoughts?

    • Hi Lea - The pediatric dentists at my school tell me that mamelons don't exist on baby teeth (I think this was actually a test questions once!), but I've seen some baby teeth with mamelon-like bumps on them. It might not be wearing away because it's not hitting another tooth when your son bites down. If it is large enough to look like a chipped tooth, then it may be possible that he did chip his tooth on some hard food or something else.

      I hope that helps - Thanks for your comment! Let me know if you have any other questions, Lea.

  3. Hi, i am 11 years old and I have only lost 11 teeth! Do you know what age is the age with all adult teeth??? Thanks;)

    • Hi Lauren - It sounds like you're right about on schedule. Here's a chart from the ADA that says when each baby tooth falls out.

      By the time you turn 13, all of your baby teeth should be out. Keep in mind that some people take longer than others. I think I lost my last baby tooth my sophomore year of high school!

      I hope that helps, Lauren. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Hi,
    I am the mother of a 6 year old who was riding his bike and got his front tooth loose. The issue that I have is i cant rememmer if its his permanant tooth or baby tooth. He has lost his 2 lower front tooth last year and lost one tooth in the upper front but cant remember which one it was. I dont know if i should loosen it more and pull it or leave it.
    I need help.

    Its def more whitter than the the other front tooth, which is why im thinking its a baby tooth

    • Hi Mari - At his age, it's likely that it is a baby tooth, but it's always a good idea to make sure before you try to remove it. A dental professional would be able to look at it and let you know. If it was a permanent tooth, chances are that it would still have mamelons on it.

  5. I'm about to turn 17. I have two baby teeth, the same on both sides, the canines, third from the front. It's my last year of high school and prom is coming. It's awful, I know, and they don't seem like they are going to fall out anytime soon. I just need advice, how can I disguise the fact that I have huge gaps at the front of my mouth when they fall out, if I can do anything to make them come out faster, if I can do anything at all..

  6. Hi i am 17 and i have a loose tooth its on the bottom front the second tooth its shaking and i am really scared if its a adult tooth please help.

  7. Hey, I am 14 years old and my milk have always been late in falling out. Now i have one tooth in the front that i think that is milk one, but i'm not sure, cause i don't remember it falling out. Could you tell me how to reconogize is it a milk or permanent tooth, and if it milk one, could you tell me how long would it take for new one to grow, cause i'll look awful with missing tooth :(.
    Please help.

  8. Hello,
    My daughter is 6 years old and had a bottom tooth knocked out when she was 2. She has lost another two teeth at the bottom and 1 of the teeth that have grown in has a yellow spot. What does that mean. Also the permant tooth from the tooth that was knocked out, still has not grown in. Should I worry?

    Thank you
    Maria

    • Its different for everyone some people days others months so just let it grow on its own and if you get really worried consult your dentist

    • If you really are worried you should go to the dentist but wasteing a couple hundred dollars on it
      would be a waste
      I suggest that you wait a bit say 7 months and if you still don't see it coming in
      go to the dentist
      but remmember that it got pushed out before the permanent teeth got time to grow in
      and I got all my permanent teeth when I was 11 so don't expect it to grow in soon but say it never
      ever grows in say when she is 15 then you might want to go to the dentist

  9. Hi,

    My son is 15 yrs old and still has his baby canine teeth. His adult canine are located on his upper jaw but are inside so they arent showing at all unless you check with xray. His front teeth look ok. My question is should I have those upper teeth move to the position where they should be or should I just leave them where they are?

    thank you

    Dinelia

  10. well im 17 and i cant ever remember my baby molars coming out and recently i had a hole in one of the upper molars and they said i can have an extraction or root canal done. so i was wondering if it was extracted would it grow back since its still a baby molar?

  11. I'm 11 and both of my premolars have fallen out (one on each side) I never had very good dental hygiene because toothpaste makes me vomit, so I've had to use dental chewing gum. Can anyone help?

  12. So I think I have adult teeth already but my back teeth are hurting like really bad and I dont know if I have cavitys or anything because my mom didn't see anything bad but I still dont know so please help and ny the way im eleven

  13. Hi, 1st of all thank you for taking the time to write out all this information. It helped so much and made me more at ease. It's amazing there is not more information like this out there. My question is on the color of the Adult teeth coming in. My son is 5 he lost his front 2 lower teeth at the same time along with the Adult ones coming in perfectly 2 days later. I noticed the color is off. However, it is not yellow, more like a ash/white color. My question is does different colors mean different things? I am happy to know that the difference between adult and baby teeth is normal but was not sure if the type of color meant anything and if it's something I should be taking him to the Dentist tomorrow for. Again, Thank you for your time!

  14. Hi
    I I'm 11 years old and I'm very concerned about my sister'a tooth. Her tooth is about to fall out but I'm not sure if its a baby tooth or an adult tooth, it has bumps on it. But it's white. I'm not sure if its an adult or baby. Please help!! Me and my sis are freaking out about this.

  15. Hi Tom! I'm Oisue,

    Okay I'm 15 years old now and I still have 2 baby teeth, you know the ones beside my 2 front teeth on bothsides? Well I'm really worried that I might not loose them I mean I don't think that there are teeth growing underneath them to replace them so does that mean I'll never loose them? And there's my one canine tooth that is at the very top of my mouth so the roof of my mouth and it's been there since I was 8, but my dentist has made a space for that tooth to be brought down but how are they gonna drag it down and put it in place? Okay and last question. I have these gaps in between my teeth and I don't like them at all! Especially the triangular shaped one between my 2 front teeth can these be fixed? Plus the ridges on them can they be fixed too? Thanks soo much for your time!

    - Oisue

  16. My Goddaughter is 5, she fell and knock out her front permant tooth. I am worried that she needs a spacer sense her other front tooth has not come in (baby tooth is out).

  17. Hi, I'm slightly over twelve and one of my teeth (the 5th tooth from the bottom left front tooth),slightly shaky..I'm really scared and worried that it would be a permanent one.. And I am wondering if it is a disease or something? I read lots of article about gum diseases and they just got me more worried. My mom wouldn't let me go to the dentist and I have no idea if I dropped it before. That tooth is also the same siz as the others which I also don't know whether they dropped or not. N I am really worried since I can't determine if it is a permanent tooth. Please help!!

  18. Hi,
    I am 12 years old and I have a loose tooth but recentlyuly
    I just got a new adult tooth near this looth tooth...but I am not sure
    if the new adult tooth is this loose tooth or nit and I am very worried
    Please reply back...and is it safe to wiggle your loose tooth?

  19. Hey I'm 13 and I have noticed that almost all of my teeth are very so slightly shakeing they are all adult teeth and I do brush with a sonicare e series tooth brush one of my teeth on my bottom jaw 2 away from the vampire teeth is shakeing noticeably and I feel like it will fall out eventually. Any ideas on what's going on?

    • Hi Dennis - Not sure what's going on, but it would be a good idea to have your dentist check it out to make sure that if there is a problem, that it's solved quickly before it turns into a bigger problem. I hope that helps - have a great day!

      • Thanks but we don't have alot of time to do that id just want to know if I could do something that could help with this ex. Medicine but thanks any way

  20. permanent teeth are stronger than milk teeth

  21. Hi my name is Crystal. My 11 yr old daughter has a tooth coming in over a perminate tooth and its not loose what should i do? She has a dentist appt but they said the only thing to do is pull it. She hates the thought of letting them pull her teeth she has been trying to get it loose herself.. IS THAT A GOOD IDEA?? PLEASE HELP ME

    • Hi Crystal - Are both teeth permanent? If so, you may want to get a consultation with an orthodontist to discuss whether or not braces and/or other options can help move the teeth into proper alignment. If the first tooth is a baby tooth and it's not loose at all, it may need to be pulled to allow space for the permanent tooth to erupt in proper alignment into her mouth. I hope that helps!

  22. Hi , i'am 13 and still have a couple baby tooth i have this one tooth on the bottom of my mouth that's loose and i don't know if its a baby or adult. Its really white colored and under it the gum s kinda white.

  23. Hey, I'm 14 and as far as I can tell all my baby teeth are gone and I haven't lost a tooth for about maybe 4-5 years ago and I'm really paranoid that my adult teeth are going to fall out or rot, etc. and sometimes I get tooth aches that go away within a few hours maybe but it doesn't happen too much. It hurts when I eat and anything with alot of sugar in it like chocalate, candy, etc. and I'm sure I have cavities but I don't since it's been a while since I've been to a dentist because my mom doesn't think I need to see one (probably to avoid the cost to see one) and sometimes my paranoid part of the brain makes me think my tooth feel a bit loose and I can't tell if they are or not. I was just wondering, how do I know if I might by any chance still have any baby teeth that I may not be able to see as well like one of the molars, or how do I know if they are rotting or whatever?

    P.S. I brush my teeth about every night or every other night (depends if I remember to or not) and I do floss after brushing.

    • Hi Devon - It would be good to get a dental checkup to make sure that nothing is going on. Some sensitivity can be normal, but it would be good to make sure there aren't any cavities.

      If there is something going on and you wait until it gets really bad, then it may be harder to save the tooth.

      You're welcome to come to Bridgewater if you'd like! Have a great day!

  24. Btw, I also live pretty close to Bridgewater, VA (Shenandoah County where I live) and maybe I can come for a visit possibly if I can talk my mom into it

  25. Hi, one of my teeth is loose on the bottom... I think I might have a cavity, but I'm not completely sure. I'm very busy with school, and I don't think I have time to go to the dentist... And I wanted to make sure it is a baby tooth, not a permanent. Please reply! Thanks :)

  26. Hello, I was wondering if I could get some advice about a, err, weird problem that recently arose. So, I'm 18. And I have a weird mouth. A few extra teeth in it, and another five or six buds upin the gums (no problem there). I also still have one of my baby teeth, the molar right next to the bicuspid on the right side of my mouth. My dentist thinks it's odd, but there haven't been any issues with it. Up til last night... It's started chipping away. Chunks of it were falling out last night. Now, seeing as it's here years past how long it should, and since the rest of my teeth are perfectly fine, I figured it makes sense that this would happen. But of course, I'm not sure. Any input on it?

    • Hi Kat - I've seen baby teeth last until people are in their 50s and 60s. It depends on a variety of factors. if it's breaking down, the rest of the tooth likely needs to come out as well. Is there a permanent tooth underneath this baby tooth? I hope that helps. Thanks for your comment!

  27. *the rest of my baby teeth fell out fairly early in life, btw

  28. I'm not sure if my tooth is a baby tooth. I'm 12 and on the top my left side second from back if loose.

  29. I have a tooth that just fell out and I don't know if it's a baby or a permanent! The tooth that fell out was a molar and was the first molar closest to my front teeth. It was super white and had a few tiny bumps but not like the picture above. It was whiter than my permanent teeth that I know I have. I'm 11. Please help!

    • Hi Victoria - That sounds like it's a permanent tooth. If it's the one just behind the pointy tooth, or even the one behind that, those are both baby teeth and you're right around the age where those will be getting loose and coming out.

      Have a great day!

  30. I have a wobbly tooth but I can make out if it's a baby or a perminant I'm 12 years old.

  31. I have a wobbly tooth at rear of my mouth. Because its not a front tooth, I am unable to tell if it is a baby, or permanent tooth. I have lost all baby teeth at the front, and several at the back. I'm just un sure and worried that it might be permanent. If it helps, I am 16.

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About Me

Tom, Creator of Oral AnswersHi, I'm Tom. I recently graduated from dental school and am now a dentist in Bridgewater, Virginia. I started this blog to help people take better care of their teeth. You can learn more about me or ask me a question.

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