A human eventually can have as many as 32 teeth. These are known as permanent teeth or adult teeth. However, most adults typically have only 28 teeth-the last four being the wisdom teeth which often are extracted or never develop. Primary teeth are the teeth most people refer to as baby teeth. Baby or primary teeth usually fall out on their own as the adult or permanent tooth underneath it begins to develop. Most people lose all their primary teeth before the age of 13.
When do baby teeth fall out?
According to Alan Carr, a Mayo Clinic prosthodontist, "A child's baby teeth (primary teeth) begin to loosen and fall out on their own to make room for permanent teeth at about age 6." There is no set schedule for the departure of baby teeth. Some children lose their primary teeth younger than age 6, while others may not lose the first tooth until age 7 or 8. Usually, a child who develops teeth earlier will lose teeth earlier. However, conditions such as poor oral hygiene (resulting in tooth decay) or an accident involving the mouth area can cause teeth to fall out ahead of schedule.
Typical tooth loss order
Most children first lose the teeth they first developed. For example, the central incisors on the bottom (the bottom two front teeth) usually develop when a child is about 6 to 10 months old. These teeth usually loosen and fall out (or are pulled out by a child anxious for a Tooth Fairy visit) around the age of 6 or 7 years old. The top two front teeth also are called central incisors and usually develop around 8 to 9 months of age. These incisors also will loosen and fall out around the age of 6 or 7. Some kids may lose the top ones first, while others lose the bottom ones or a combination.
The American Dental Association (ADA) provides a general primary teeth eruption chart. It reports the upper teeth are lost in the following order:
The lower teeth are lost at approximately the following ages, according to the ADA.
Just as no human is exactly like another human, tooth loss varies by individual. Some adults do retain one or more than one of their primary or baby teeth. This is the exception and according to the National Institutes of Health, the cause for the retained teeth and the long-term survival of these primary teeth vary.