Everything you need to know about teeth

If you have a dental problem you should, in the first instance always phone the dental practice that you normally attend.

If you are not registered with any dental practice then your nearest dental practice will still be able to help.

Healthy teeth are important for overall health. You have different types of teeth throughout your life.

Milk teeth

Milk teeth are the first teeth babies get. These teeth start developing before a baby is born. They’ll normally start to come through when an infant is between 6 and 12 months old.

A child should have a full set of 20 milk teeth by age 3. They’ll keep this set for another few years. Keeping these teeth healthy and clean will help them to eat, talk and avoid problems when the adult teeth grow in.

Milk teeth should start to gradually fall out between the ages of 5 and 6. Adult teeth grow in shortly after.

Further information about caring for your baby’s first teeth and teething

Adult teeth

A child should have lost all their baby teeth and have a full set of 28 adult teeth between the ages of 12 and 14.

A full set of adult teeth will amount to 32 teeth in total. This includes the wisdom teeth, which grow in at the back of the mouth, although not everyone has these. These normally grow in much later and can be expected between the ages of 17 and 21.

Wisdom teeth

For some people, wisdom teeth don’t grow in at all. Your dentist will be able to offer advice on wisdom teeth.

On occasion some people have problems when their wisdom teeth start to come through. This can be down to positioning, space in the mouth or the direction they are growing in. Problems with the wisdom teeth can lead to pain and more serious problems and on occasion they will have to be removed.

Removal of wisdom teeth will depend on the positioning in the mouth. Sometimes removal can take place in your usual dental practice with only local anaesthetic. Some people may need to have them removed in hospital under general anaesthetic.

The different types of teeth


These are used for chopping and cutting food into small chunks, these are your front teeth and you have 4 on the bottom and 4 on the top.

Canine teeth

These help you to tear chewy food such as meat. You have 2 of these in the top jaw and 2 in the bottom jaw and they are positioned next to your incisors.


These are the teeth positioned next to your canine teeth. A full set of adult teeth will normally contain 8 premolars with 4 on the top and 4 on the bottom row of teeth. They grind and crush chunks of food.


These are the teeth that grow in at the back of your mouth and a full set of adult teeth should have 8 in total with 4 on the top and 4 on the bottom jaw. These teeth are bigger and wider with a flat surface area on the bottom, unlike your narrow and sharp front teeth. These teeth are your strongest, and also help to grind food down.

Further information about teeth cleaning

Parts of the teeth

The parts of the teeth are:

  • the crown – the part of the tooth which you can see above the gum line
  • the enamel – covers the crown and is hard and shiny and acts to protect the sensitive inner parts of the tooth
  • the dentine – makes up most of the tooth and protects the inner part called the pulp
  • the pulp – contains each tooth’s blood supply and nerve endings
  • the cementum – covers and protects the root of the tooth
  • the periodontal fibres – connect the tooth to the jawbone

Last updated:
09 April 2024

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