Have 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, take a look at the photo above of the little girl swimming.
Now, take a closer look at her teeth in the photo below:
In the picture to the left, 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.
These permanent teeth stand out in more ways than one. I’ll cover all these differences between baby teeth and permanent teeth below.
As you read, feel free to refer back to this picture to get a visual representation of some of the more noticeable 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.
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.
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.