Adult Tooth Development

Permanent, or adult teeth, are the second set of teeth in the mouth which replaces the primary, or baby teeth. There are generally 32 permanent teeth in an adult mouth: 16 in the upper jaw and 16 in the lower jaw.

At about the age of six, a child begins losing primary teeth and permanent teeth erupt (appear). Generally, girls’ teeth develop before boys, and lower teeth grow through the gums before upper teeth.

The first adult tooth to erupt is the first molar, which does not actually replace a baby tooth, but grows in behind the last baby molar. After the first molar erupts, you will likely notice that your child’s front teeth will start being loose, and will be replaced by the adult front teeth.

The most important thing to remember is that the SEQUENCE of adult teeth eruption is more important than the AGE of the child when the teeth erupt. As long as the teeth are erupting in the proper sequence, children can vary greatly as to exactly when they start losing their baby teeth and getting their adult ones.

(click the images below to enlarge)

Characteristics of Adult Teeth

Permanent teeth tend to have a yellowish color and are generally larger than primary teeth. Parents are often worried that the adult teeth look much more yellow than the baby teeth. Permanent teeth are larger, thicker and denser, and this contributes to the darker colour of the adult teeth when compared to the baby teeth.

Missing Permanent Teeth

Some people may not develop all permanent teeth, which may be genetic. The teeth most often missing include the lateral incisors, second premolars, and third molars. The absence of wisdom teeth is generally not a problem unless the third molars in the opposite jaw over-erupt.