When we were kids we might have been excited to lose a tooth. A wiggling tooth was a sign of growing up and a precursor to a visit from the tooth fairy. But as adults, a loose tooth can be a scary prospect. Unlike our baby teeth or primary teeth, our adult teeth cannot be replaced. This is because we are born with both sets of teeth. A common misconception is that the replacement adult teeth are simply our teeth “growing back”. This isn’t true. All of the teeth you will ever have were in your mouth when you were born. We are not capable of generating new teeth. When the baby teeth fall out and are replaced by the adult teeth, they have replacements because those replacement teeth were already there. But if those teeth fall out there isn’t a replacement option, at least not naturally. Continue reading to learn more about baby and permanent teeth.
The simply answer here is that our mouths are too small to facilitate the full set of teeth we have as adults. When we were kids we had both smaller and fewer teeth than we grew up. The average adult has 28 permanent teeth (32 if you include wisdom teeth, also referred to as third molars), but a child’s mouth only has 20 teeth. As these teeth fall out they are replaced by permanent teeth and new molars also erupt behind the teeth as the size of our mouths grows. This is why we have two sets of teeth. One set to carry us through early adolescence and one set to hopefully last the rest of our lives.
A baby tooth gets loose and begins to wiggle because it is time for that tooth to fall out and be replaced by an adult tooth. An adult tooth can also get loose. But unlike a baby tooth that is designed to loosen and fall out, and adult tooth falling out can be unexpected and cause problems. A common reason for an adult tooth to be loose is dental decay or a sport’s injury. In either case you should see a dentist to ensure your teeth are taken care of and any issues are addressed before they can progress. Other common causes of loose adult teeth include gum disease, pressure from tooth grinding or chewing on hard items like ice, and even pregnancy.
When an adult tooth falls out it won’t “grow back” or be naturally replaced by a third set of teeth. Instead we must look to restorative dental solutions. For a single tooth you might consider either a dental implant or dental bridge. For replacing a full set of teeth, dentures are a common solution. Synthetic teeth can help preserve your smile and keep the functionality of your teeth. Not only is it important to replace the gap in your smile but replacing a tooth can ensure that your bite alignment doesn’t shift.
If you live in the Chicago area and need restorative dentistry for yourself or a member of your family, please give our offices a call. Our five offices in Chicago aid with both restorative and preventative care. For more information give us a call.