It has been known that in humans the first set of teeth do more than just allow a child to chew. They play a role in stimulating and guiding the growth and development of jawbones and permanent teeth. One of the biggest fallacies is the belief that because deciduous teeth are temporary, they are not important. If a child loses milk teeth prematurely, by accident or because of decay, his jaw and permanent teeth are likely to develop improperly. Prolonged treatment may be needed to set them right.
Another reason for our two sets of teeth is that there is not enough room in a child’s small mouth for the full set of permanent teeth – there are only 20 deciduous teeth, compared with 28 or 32 permanent teeth present in adults.
How do the deciduous teeth know just when to fall out? The beginnings of our second set of teeth are already present below the gum line at birth. During early childhood, the permanent teeth develop and start to push through the jaw towards the mouth’s interior. As they move, they cause the roots of the deciduous teeth to dissolve. Without the roots to hold them firmly in place, the deciduous teeth become wobbly and simply fall out.
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