Difference between milk teeth and permanent teeth

Milk Teeth Vs Permanent Teeth

We have all gone through the phase during our childhood where we would lose a tooth and a new one would already be ready below it.


As humans, we have two sets of teeth that erupt during our lifetime – the first set is called as milk teeth, primary teeth or baby teeth and they start erupting when we are 6 months old and the next set of teeth, called permanent teeth, begin erupting as we turn 6 years old.


Many of us may have asked our parents or elders “Why are my teeth falling?”. But, have you ever wondered -” What is the difference between milk teeth and permanent teeth?” or “why do we need two sets of teeth?”

Why do We Have Two Sets of Teeth?

Before we get to the difference between deciduous teeth and permanent teeth, let’s understand why we need two sets of teeth in the first place. Did you know that tooth formation occurs while the baby is still inside the uterus?


However, these do not erupt into the mouth, barring some exceptions, until the child turns 6-7 months old. These teeth are called milk teeth, baby teeth or deciduous teeth(because they fall off eventually).


While this may be one of the basic difference between Deciduous teeth and permanent teeth, that’s not all! When the first set of teeth appear, the individual is just an infant and growth has only just begun. The milk teeth, which are smaller than the permanent teeth, are easy to fit into the jaw size of the child.


While this is another significant difference between milk teeth and permanent teeth, it still does not answer why we need two sets of teeth.


Milk teeth are very important for the normal growth and development of a child and in fact, as important as your permanent teeth. Though there is a significant difference between milk teeth and permanent teeth, milk teeth perform certain important functions until the permanent teeth can take over.

Milk Teeth and Permanent Teeth - Understand the difference

Here’s how deciduous teeth help:-

  • They help the child bite and chew which is essential for the child to gain proper nutrition during his/her early years
  • They allow the proper development of speech
  • They create and hold space for the eruption of permanent teeth in the jaws
  • They ensure proper tooth alignment when the permanent teeth begin to erupt
  • They build confidence and self-esteem in the child wherein children with good dental hygiene and healthy teeth tend to ooze more confidence as compared to those who have poor oral hygiene and missing milk teeth

Many a time, parents feel that their child’s milk teeth or baby teeth are not important and refused to get these teeth treated. If you believe the same, remember that your child’s milk teeth are just as important as their permanent teeth.


Yes, there is a difference between deciduous teeth and permanent teeth that may make milk teeth seem unimportant, but remember, milk teeth pave the way for healthy, properly aligned permanent teeth in your child.

How To Take Care Of Milk Teeth

Most of the parents have a common question in their mind, how to take care of milk teeth? It is certainly important to take special care of the milk teeth, as proper care can ensure better growth of permanent teeth. A dental expert can give better advice on the care to take for your child’s milk teeth.

Permanent Teeth Care

Permanent teeth will be a part of your body for your entire life, so it is important to follow proper oral hygiene. Many people neglect permanent teeth care which causes several dental problems.

What Are Temporary Teeth

Some people are confused between temporary and permanent teeth. Now, what are temporary teeth? Temporary teeth are the first set of teeth that erupt in an individuals’ life. Generally, before the teenage, temporary teeth fall or need to be removed, so that permanent teeth can erupt properly from that place.

Difference Between Temporary Teeth And Permanent Teeth

It is important to understand the difference between temporary teeth and permanent teeth. Temporary teeth are basically the first set of teeth that erupts in the individual after birth, they are often called milk teeth. While permanent teeth are the second and last teeth set that erupts after falling of temporary teeth.


So far, we saw that some difference between milk teeth and permanent teeth exists. However, let’s elaborate a bit on this!


The most evident difference between milk teeth and permanent teeth is their size. Ask anyone and this is probably the first thing they would say, including children.


Milk teeth are smaller than their permanent counterparts for the simple reason that they erupt very early on in the life of an individual when the lager permanent teeth cannot fit in their jaws.


The next obvious difference between milk teeth and permanent teeth is the number of teeth. While we all have 32 permanent teeth, milk teeth are just 20 in number.


The 20 primary or milk teeth include – two pairs of upper and lower incisors, one pair of canines in each jaw, one pair of first molars and one pair of second molars in each jaw.


However, in the permanent dentition, in addition to the teeth present in the milk teeth set, we also have two pairs of premolars in each jaw and one pair of third molars in each jaw, taking the count to a total of 32 teeth.


The next difference between primary and permanent teeth is that the enamel layer on the primary teeth is much thinner than that in permanent teeth.


This difference between deciduous and permanent teeth is important because thinner enamel allows cavities to spread quickly. A thin enamel also means less surface area to bond cavity-filling material on the tooth when a part of the tooth has been lost to decay or fracture.

Softer than permanent teeth

In addition to the enamel in milk teeth being thinner, it is also softer than that found in permanent teeth. This has a clinical significance as thinner enamel means that bacterial acids can dissolve it faster, leading to rampant caries in milk teeth as compared to permanent teeth.


This difference between milk teeth and permanent teeth is also important because a softer enamel also means it is susceptible to strong acids, sodas, juices and other food items that can break it down and result in cavities.

Soft enamel also makes it easy to grind it, especially in kids who have the habit of grinding or clenching their teeth.


If you ever noticed carefully, the milk teeth are whiter than their permanent counterparts. This is usually evident only when the permanent teeth begin to erupt adjacent to existing milk teeth.


This difference between primary and permanent teeth worries parents who visit their dentist with questions like “My child’s teeth are turning yellow. What do I do?”

Large Pulp Chambers

Milk teeth have large pulp chambers, which is that part of the tooth that contains the nerves and blood vessels. Why is this important? Well, larger pulp chambers along with thinner enamel mean that even small cavities can result in the teeth infection and infection of surrounding tissues.


Apart from dental cavities, large pulp chambers also mean that slightest of trauma to the milk teeth can result in nerve inflammation and subsequent infection.


The difference between primary and permanent teeth are important as they determine the dynamics of dental diseases inside the individual’s mouth. This ability to distinguish between milk teeth and permanent teeth is very critical for a dental practitioner as this helps him/her chart a treatment plan when the need arises.


Frequently Asked Question

Can my permanent teeth grow back?

No, we only have one set of permanent teeth. So if we lose one permanent tooth, they are not coming back. Visit Sabka Dentist to get the best treatment for your missing tooth.

When do permanent teeth come?

By the age of 6-7, permanent teeth start to come through.
On Average, a 21-year-old person has a set of 32 permanent teeth.

Is it common to have milk teeth at the age of 21?

There are some cases when people still have their milk teeth in adulthood. There are several reasons to have milk teeth in your middle-age. However, it may not cause any severe issue in your dental health. But still, it’s recommended to visit a dentist for a check-up.

Dr. Vimal Thareja

He is working as a Senior Consultant at various hospitals and private dental clinics in Delhi & NCR where he exclusively treats patients with malocclusions and dentofacial deformities. He has over 13 years of experience in Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics, dealing with various dental and facial aberrations. In Orthodontics, he is routinely practices Straight-wire technique, Lingual Orthodontics, Self-Ligation, Adult Orthodontics, Clear Aligners and temporary anchorage Devices. Dr. Thareja has treated hundreds of patients with irregular teeth and facial problems and given them the gift of a beautiful smile using the latest technology and his vast armamentarium of different systems of braces and devices.

He is a Life Member of Indian Orthodontic Society for over 10 years now, also active academically. He has a teaching experience of over 5 years as Senior Academic and Clinical Faculty in a Dental College in NCR. Dr. Thareja has also published various research papers in prestigious national and international journals.

Registered with the Delhi State Dental Council, Dr. Thareja also Practices full time at SmileMax Dentistry, Rani Bagh, Pitampura. He also practices general dentistry along with Orthodontics and is known for providing services in Aesthetic Dentistry, Crowns & Bridges. Gums Treatments, Root Canals, Teeth Whitening procedures, Tooth Colored Fillings, Oral Surgery and Dental Implantology.

To know more about Your Teeth and how We can help you, meet Dr. Vimal Thareja MDS, at SmileMax Dental, Rani Bagh, Pitampura or contact us at 8800211141.