You sleep at night with your milk tooth beside your bed or under your pillow for the tooth fairy to come and take it and give you a gift in return. Ever wondered why do you have these brittle milk teeth, which we lose as we grow up?
Why are they called Milk Teeth?
Milk teeth are also known as deciduous teeth or temporary teeth or baby teeth. We all have milk teeth when we grow up. They are the first set of teeth that come out. When a baby is born, it is born without any teeth, since the skull and the jaws of the infant are not yet developed. As the infant grows, the skull and jaw begins to develop. Thus, the first set of teeth or the primary teeth start to come out. But even then, the skull and jaw of a child is still developing. It is not yet developed as in the case of adults. Thus, the milk teeth start falling at the age of 6 or 7.
Milk teeth, when they fall, provide the space and guide the permanent teeth to erupt. The milk teeth shape the jaw bones and muscles. Thus when they fall off, they leave that space for the permanent teeth to grow in and give the jaw bones and muscles the correct structure. Therefore, milk teeth help in developing the Oral Cavity of a child. Milk teeth also help in the development of a child’s speech and in chewing food. The roots of these milk teeth provide a solid space and structure for the permanent teeth to grow.
The infant human skull is very small to hold the 32 permanent teeth which adults have. Thus, a child till the age of 6 will have 20 primary teeth. As they keep developing the jaw, the primary or milk teeth start becoming loose. Then they eventually fall of one by one, making way for the permanent teeth to come out. The roots of the milk teeth provide an opening for the permanent teeth to come up, with proper spacing between each tooth. Thus at the age of 6 or 7, the jaw of the child is developed and thus the milk teeth start to fall off.
What happens after the baby tooth has fallen?
A permanent tooth starts taking the place of the fallen baby tooth. This tooth begins to push its way up through the gums. This happens after the age of 6 when the child starts developing the first set of incisor and molar teeth. The two central incisors or the two teeth on the upper jaw and two on the lower jaw are the first ones to drop and the first set of permanent teeth to come out. Next the canines or the premolars which are the first and second teeth on either side of the central incisors are replaced only between the ages of 10 to 13.
What to do with the fallen tooth?
Many countries have various traditions about the fallen milk tooth. The falling off of the primary tooth and gaining the permanent set of teeth is considered as a very important aspect of entering into adulthood. In some countries people believe that the baby tooth should be thrown in a specific direct and a wish be made. In the Western countries people believe in leaving the tooth under their pillows at night or bury them in the ground, and the tooth fairy will come and collect it, giving some gift in return.
5 Fun Facts about Milk Teeth
- On an average, we lose 14 teeth from the age of 6 to 13- seven each from the upper and lower jaws.
- The set of milk teeth start developing not after the birth of a baby, but when the baby is just an embryo inside its mother’s womb. They become visible only after few months of the birth of the infant.
- If your milk tooth is wiggly, never try to pull it out. Let it take its own time to come out and leave the roots undamaged.
- Humans have 20 baby teeth and 32 permanent teeth. Mammals like dogs and cats have two sets of teeth- one is their entire set of baby teeth which they lose in a few months, and next is their entire new set of permanent teeth.
- Dolphins and other whales have only one set of teeth. Elephants, who do tough jobs with their teeth, have to go through six set of molar teeth!
Read more Interesting Facts about Teeth.