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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Overview of teeth

Tirohanga whānui ki ngā raruraru ā-niho

We have two sets of teeth in our lifetime, 20 primary or baby teeth and 32 permanent or adult teeth. Baby teeth start to appear around 6 months of age and grow in stages until around 3 years of age.

These teeth start falling out to make room for adult teeth between the ages of 6 and 12 years. Your adult teeth will usually have all come through by the time you're around 21 years old.

Our teeth come in different shapes. Incisors at the front are for biting into food. Canines are sharp and allow us to tear food. Premolars sit in front of the molars, which are the large teeth at the back made for chewing and grinding food. The last teeth to grow are your wisdom teeth.

It's important to look after your teeth all the way through your life. Not only do healthy teeth make beautiful smiles, good oral health prevents pain, expense and has a positive effect on your overall health.

You can look after your teeth and gums by brushing your teeth morning and night. Use a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Swish and spit but do not rinse.

See Looking after your teeth and gums for more information about looking after your teeth.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed March 2022.

Page reference: 498896

Review key: HITMG-38566