Understanding Adult Teeth: Layers, Count & Functions


In our youth, we were reminded to care for our teeth diligently, but as adults, we often take them for granted, rarely contemplating their count or composition. This blog aims to provide an inclusive overview of teeth, from their layers to their numbers, filling you in on all the essential details.

The Anatomy of Teeth

Before delving into tooth layers, let’s explore the various surfaces of a tooth. Each tooth boasts five surfaces: the occlusal (forward-facing), mesial (front), facial (back), and lingual (tooth-facing). Moving on to tooth layers, each tooth comprises three critical components:

Pulp: The innermost layer, housing nerves and blood vessels.
Dentin: A layer between pulp and enamel akin to bone tissue.
Enamel: The visible, teeth white outer layer that shields the inner tooth layers, protecting against decay and cavities.

Baby Teeth

In a child’s development journey, the timing of tooth eruption varies. At one year old, they may have only 2-4 teeth, but by ages 2-3, they typically sport a full set of 20 teeth – ten on the top and ten on the bottom. These baby teeth are temporary, as children’s mouths aren’t spacious enough to accommodate the 32 adult teeth. Nevertheless, proper care is essential because early dental health affects adult teeth. Brushing a child’s teeth for at least 2 minutes is recommended.

Adult Teeth

As children lose their baby teeth, typically by age 7, the process of permanent tooth development begins. By the end of adolescence, adults possess a full set of 32 teeth, which includes the often notorious wisdom teeth (third molars).

Functions and Types of Adult Teeth

Adult teeth serve different purposes, with four primary types:

Incisors: Eight in number (four upper and four lower); these flat, broad teeth assist in holding and cutting food.

Canines (Cuspids): These four-pointed and rigid teeth help grip and tear hard foods, such as apples.

Premolars (Bicuspids): Positioned between canines and molars, these eight teeth with two cusps each aid in cutting and grinding food.

Molars: With broad chewing surfaces, these 12 teeth (six upper and six lower) grind food before swallowing. In one’s early twenties, the third set of molars, known as wisdom teeth, may emerge but often require extraction.

Can Adult Teeth Regenerate?

Unfortunately, adult teeth do not have the ability to regenerate. Once an adult tooth is lost, replacement options like dental implants or dentures become necessary. However, there are steps to follow if you lose a tooth:

  • Handle the tooth gently by the crown.
  • Rinse it with cold water if it’s dirty.
  • Insert it back into the socket immediately and apply gentle pressure to ensure proper fixation.

If these steps are missed, seek immediate dental assistance. An emergency dentist can guide you on further precautions and, if needed, recommend dental bridges, dentures, or dental implants as suitable solutions for missing teeth.


Teeth play a pivotal role in our ability to enjoy meals, and their proper care is essential, whether they belong to babies or adults. Ensuring healthy teeth and a radiant smile requires ongoing dental attention and care.

by Dr Santosh Joy

Dr Santosh has a strong background in dentistry and a unique passion for providing affordable, high-quality dental care. His experience in the industry spans more than a decade, and he has been able to refine and expand his expertise while attending to thousands of patients in various locations across the country. He's currently operating as dentist in Oxenford.

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