How many teeth do we have and how do we take good care of them?

Teeth are essential. They help people talk, chew, and swallow food. Adults typically have 32 teeth, four of which are wisdom teeth. A complete adult set of teeth consists of 16 lower teeth and 16 upper teeth. In this article we explain the anatomy and function of teeth, the number of teeth in adults and children, how to maintain healthy teeth and when to see a dentist.

How many teeth do adults have?

A full set of adult teeth usually has 32, including four wisdom teeth.

Each row of teeth contains:

– four incisors, in the middle of the row, at the front of the mouth
– two canines, one on each side of the incisors
– Two premolars and three molars behind, five on each side.

However, not every third person has molars or wisdom teeth in the jawbone. When an adult has wisdom teeth, they usually appear around the age of 18. They can’t show up at all. If a wisdom tooth doesn’t erupt properly or becomes infected, the dentist may need to remove it.

Anatomy of the teeth

Teeth start growing before birth and children usually have all their milk teeth by the age of 3. Every tooth consists of a crown and a root.
The crown is the visible white part and the root is the invisible part of the tooth that is hidden by the gums. The root anchors the tooth in the jawbone. Teeth are also made up of layers called enamel, dentin, cementum and dental pulp.


Enamel covers the crown, or the outside of the tooth, protecting it from physical and chemical injury. It develops in three phases:

The secretory phase

Ameloblasts, a type of cell found only in teeth, make up tooth enamel. First, these cells make proteins and enamel crystals. These proteins and crystals eventually turn into tooth enamel.

transition stage

At this stage, about 25% of the ameloblastic cells die. Researchers think this could be because they’re starting to contain too much calcium. As a result, ameloblasts produce fewer enamel proteins.

The maturity phase

During the maturation phase, enamel crystals form, which make the enamel hard and resistant. The ameloblasts also change their appearance, turning into ruffled or smooth cells.
These different shapes stop the movement of small molecules in tooth enamel, which helps protect the crown of the tooth.


Dentin is the main component of tooth tissue. Dentin has a structure similar to bone. The cells that make dentin are odontoblast cells, similar to osteoblast cells in bone. Unlike bone, dentin has no blood vessels.


Cement is a tissue that covers the surfaces of the root. There are different types of cement. Acellular fibrous cementum covers 60-90% of single-rooted teeth and 33-50% of multi-rooted teeth. Other types of cement, such as B. Mixed Cell Stratified Cement (CMSC), cover other parts of the roots. The CMSC covers about 66% of the roots of the molars. The main function of the cement is to support and fix the teeth in the jawbone.

The tooth pulp

The center of the tooth contains the dental pulp, which is made up of loose tissue, including nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. When bacteria manage to get through enamel and dentin, the pulp becomes inflamed to protect the tooth. Inflammation of the pulp can cause pulpitis, which can be very painful. The dental pulp attacks bacteria through antibacterial, immunological and inflammatory reactions. This can cause the body to reject and fight off the bacterial infection. However, if this does not happen, the dental pulp can remain inflamed. This causes part of the pulp to die and can cause root canal infection.

What is the function of each type of tooth?

Although teeth help people speak, their primary function is chewing. Teeth cut and grind food into small pieces, making it easier for a person to swallow and digest it. However, different types of teeth have different functions.

There are four types of teeth:


The incisors are referred to by some as the “front teeth.” Adults usually have eight, with four in the top row and four in the bottom row.
The incisors cut food into small pieces, which are then moved by the teeth and tongue to the back of the mouth.


The canines are the teeth that are slightly more pointed than the others. In addition to cutting and tearing food, these teeth ensure that the upper and lower rows of teeth do not collide.
The shape of the canines allows them to guide the rows of teeth so that they slide smoothly over one another as the jaw moves.


Most adults have eight premolars. These are the largest teeth found behind the canines. Humans have four on the upper gum line and four on the lower gum line, two on each side. The primary function of the premolars is to begin grinding food.


There are three types of molars:

the first molars
the second molars
third molars or wisdom teeth

They are located at the back of the mouth, and most adults typically have eight molars, with a first and second molar on either side of the mouth. Third molars, or wisdom teeth, are located at the back of the mouth. Some people don’t develop wisdom teeth. The function of the molars is to break up food into smaller pieces to make it easier for humans to swallow.
Wisdom teeth, on the other hand, usually have no function. When adults have their wisdom teeth, they have 12 molars.

How many teeth do children have?

The first set of teeth, or baby teeth, begins to emerge around 5 months of age, and children typically have their first full set by age 3.

A complete set of milk teeth consists of 20 teeth. Each row of 10 contains:

four incisors
two canines
four molars
Deciduous teeth do not contain premolars. By the time a child is around 6 years old, their baby teeth will begin to fall out and will be replaced by adult teeth.

How to take care of your teeth

The best way to maintain a healthy mouth is to take care of your teeth by brushing and flossing them regularly.

How to properly brush your teeth:

– Place the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle so that it touches the gums and teeth
– Pay special attention to the gums and molars
– Brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes

When using dental floss

– Use a piece of dental floss and wrap it around your fingers
– Gently thread the floss between the teeth until it hits the gums and move it up and down
– Use a clean piece of dental floss for every two teeth.

When people start flossing, they may notice their gums bleeding. This phenomenon is not uncommon and should stop when gums become healthy after regular cleaning and flossing. If the bleeding continues, see a dentist.

When to go to the dentist

It is advisable to make regular appointments with the dentist. This determines the frequency of check-ups depending on the person’s oral health.
A person should see a dentist if they have any unusual symptoms, such as ulcers, infection, inflammation, or bleeding.

Here are some oral health issues that require a dentist’s attention:

tooth loss

* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.

Like our content?

Receive our latest publications directly in your mailbox every day free of charge

Related Articles

Back to top button