Fun fact! The Nigersaurus, a long-necked dinosaur from the middle Cretaceous period, had over five hundred teeth! Could you imagine having to brush and floss that every night?
Thankfully, humans only have a max of thirty-two at one time. We of course are born without them, and slowly progress through the baby teeth falling out to get our adult teeth, and later get in our wisdom teeth. Let’s break the stages and types down as it doesn’t matter how many teeth we humans have, but rather how we care for them.
Baby teeth, sometimes called “milk teeth” come in at different times in the first couple years of a baby’s life. Teeth usually don’t start coming in until around month six, however, all babies are different. Some can start as early as four months and some as late as a year old. It is recommended that you start brushing your babies’ teeth as soon as they come in and are eating food. Baby formulas, store-bought baby foods, puff snacks, and first fruits can leave their little teeth with sugars and acids that need to be cleaned off for oral health. There are baby toothbrushes and safe toothpaste to clean their little choppers and keep their grins sparkly.
Of course, around age six up to around age thirteen, kids start to lose their baby teeth and progress into getting their permanent, adult teeth. Our adult teeth need to be cleaned twice a day, once in the morning, and once at night, and any extra cleanings between if we eat or drink anything too sugary. Flossing should be done twice a day along with our routine brushing, and your teeth should feel smooth. If you don’t have straight teeth and have some areas that collect more food than others, make sure to pay special attention to these little nooks, as plaque can build up faster and erode or stain the teeth there.
If your wisdom teeth fully came in and are present, you’ll also need to make sure you are brushing and flossing to the very back of them. Food often gets stuck between them and your cheek and causes erosion at the back of the tooth. This is a difficult place to get to and fix, so if you can keep it clean, you can also keep hands and utensils out of your mouth to aid cavities.
You only have four canines, but they are the sharpest teeth you have. Their longer and pointy, and are used specifically for shredding your food. Canines shouldn’t be used for grinding up food or have their tip crushed against something hard. They are sharp and pointy for meats and string vegetables such as celery.
You have eight of these, two to the side of each of your canines leading backwards. These are smaller molars that can be used for shredding and crushing food. They aren’t quite as sharp as canines but not quite as strong as molars, but they are a necessary part of how we chew food.
The number of molars you have depends on if you have your wisdom teeth or if they have been removed. With wisdom teeth, you’ll have twelve in total, and these are the largest teeth you have. They are wide and flat for crushing your food and breaking it up as much as possible for digesting. Typically, if you’ve had your wisdom teeth removed, all four wisdom teeth will have been removed, and that will leave you with eight molars after.
It seems like a lot to care for, but I promise you, compared to the Nigersaurus, your thirty-two teeth will be a breeze to keep clean!