how many teeth do we have - savina dental clinics malta and gozo

How many teeth do we have? This is one question you’ve probably asked yourself at one point in your life. Well, the answer tends to differ, depending on a few factors, with the biggest one being age. Children and adults have different sets of teeth.

Our Teeth

Our teeth are made of different parts;


This is the outermost part of a tooth (the white part). Enamel is made of a rock-hard mineral – calcium phosphate- which makes it the hardest part of the tooth. It contains the most mineralised tissue in the body. However, if not properly cared for, it can be destroyed by wear, cavities and decay.


This is the layer under the enamel of your tooth where millions of microscopic tubes lead directly to the dental pulp. If the decay passes through the enamel, its next attack will be on the dentin. When damaged, hot or cold passing through the affected parts can cause sensitivity or even pain.


The pulp is the softest, living inner structure of a tooth. This is where blood vessels and nerve tissues are. With inadequate dental care, tooth decay might reach your pulp, causing you pain. In severe cases, you may require a root canal procedure.


This is an extension of dentine into the roots of your teeth extending from the level of gum and into the jawbone.

Periodontal Ligaments

These are the tissues that hold your teeth firmly inside the jaw.

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Why Do Adults And Kids Have Different Sets Of Teeth?

Children and adults have different sets of teeth because of the variation in jawbone sizes. Kids have smaller jaws and bones and hence need smaller teeth. Their jawbones cannot accommodate large permanent teeth. That is why you have to live with your set of baby teeth until your jaws become big and strong enough to accommodate larger permanent teeth. This is why you may notice that at the age of 6 to 9, kids have larger spaces between their teeth because their jaws have enlarged and some of the baby teeth are still present.

How Many Teeth Do Kids Have?

Children have 20 teeth. A set of 10 on the top jaw (maxillary arch) and another set of 10 on the bottom jaw (mandibular arch). Baby teeth act as placeholders for adult teeth. Adult teeth grow after the baby teeth fall out. Primary teeth can be separated into three sets based on their function and shape.

Incisor x 8

Children have eight incisor teeth. These are the four front teeth in each jaw. These teeth are used for slicing and tearing food.

Canine x 4

The canines primary function is to cut and slice food. Just like adults, children have four canine teeth. Each jaw has two canine teeth on it.

Molar x 8

The eight front teeth in the upper and lower jaw are identical both in the primary and the secondary set of teeth. Children have eight molars: four on the upper jaw and four on the lower.

How many teeth do kids have

Which Baby Teeth Come First?

Baby teeth erupt at different stages all through the teething period. The first tooth to erupt in a child’s mouth is the lower front tooth. This happens around the age of 6 to 10 months. These are followed by the upper front teeth at 8 to 12 months. The upper and lower lateral incisors follow these teeth. These are the teeth right next to the front teeth.

Primary incisors grow at around ten months. At around 13 months, the first upper molars pop out, followed by the lower molars at 14 months. The canine teeth are a bit delayed, usually erupting after the first molar appears at 16 to 17 months. The last baby tooth to grow is the second molar, which is the one furthest in the mouth.

When Do Baby (primary) Teeth Start Falling Out?

Baby teeth can last for 6 or 7 years. They only start falling out when the permanent teeth are ready to come in, which is at around the same age.

Related Article: Child Dental Care In Malta : Frequently Asked Questions

Permanent Teeth Eruption

The process by which permanent teeth erupt is quite intriguing. When an adult tooth is ready to erupt, it begins working its way up to the surface. During the process, it meets up with the root of the baby tooth. This stimulates specific cells to start eating away the root of the baby tooth until only a little part is left. Hence, the tooth becomes mobile, and it may fall out by itself or manually removed by the eager parent or child.

How Many Teeth Do Adults Have?

Adults have 32 teeth;

Incisors x 8

These are the four teeth in the middle of the upper jaw and the lower jaw.

Canines x 4

These are the sharp pointy teeth that are just outside your incisors.

Premolars x 8

These are the teeth that come after the canines and before the molars.

Molars x 12

These are the flat teeth at the back of your mouth. They are the best teeth for crushing food.

Wisdom teeth

Also known as third molars, wisdom teeth come in at the age of 18. However, they are often surgically removed to prevent problems with their eruption, usually repeated, painful infections

All but the last four teeth come in by the time most people turn 17. The last set, popularly known as wisdom teeth, comes in from ages 17 to 21. They can also start coming in early by the age of 13 or wait till late when you are 25.

Some people even have up to 6 wisdom teeth, whereas others have none. In the long run, most adults often end up with 28 teeth after having the wisdom teeth removed. These teeth can actually be used to harvest stem cells for medical use for either the same person or close relatives when other sources of stem cells have failed

How Many Teeth Do We Need?

While this might seem like a rather odd question, considering the cost of tooth replacement, this is a question that comes up frequently in real life. The benchmark for the teeth we need is 20. However, when it comes to the number of teeth that we need, it all comes down to functionality. In the event of losing a tooth, the options for replacement are somewhat consistent. You have the opportunity to use a bridge, removable partial dentures or a dental implant. You also have the alternative of not replacing the tooth and leave a gap.

If you opt not to replace your tooth, you should know that your ability to chew food may be compromised. Also, the teeth around it might begin shifting, which may change your bite, or make the replacement of the missing tooth even harder in the future. You need to take into consideration other crucial issues like jawbone loss over time when some teeth are missing. It is for such reasons that after some people lose their teeth, they opt for dental implants to regain their normal function.

These are just some of the things you need to take into consideration when trying to figure out how many teeth you need. Fortunately, you are the best person to determine this for you.

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Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at their disposal.

Joseph Xuereb
Principal Dental Surgeon & Owner of Savina Dental Clinics, Dr Joseph Xuereb BChD (Hons), MFGDP(UK), MGDS RCS(Eng), FFGDP RCS(UK), FICD is a general dental practitioner with a special interest in Implant and Restorative Dentistry. Dr Joseph & the teams' full biographical information can be found here.