Why do baby teeth look different from adult teeth?

Megan  Chin, DDS
Pediatric Dentistry
A primary tooth that has just fallen out due to the natural resorption process may have an unexpected or irregular appearance. This is because as the permanent tooth develops and moves through the gums into the mouth, it will push along the root of the baby tooth in its way, causing the primary tooth root to resorb. This is what makes the tooth become loose. It will become progressively looser as more the root dissolves, which is why the tooth may look stub-like or hollow once it finally comes out.

It’s important to also know that primary teeth and permanent teeth are very different in appearance. Permanent teeth are much larger and darker than the teeth that they replace. They may also have deep ridges on the edges, called mammelons, which is part of the anatomy of a new adult tooth before being worn down with use. In addition, the buds of permanent teeth start out in a different spot than the primary teeth. Essentially your child will be growing into his teeth, so don’t be concerned if the new tooth doesn’t appear in line with the rest of the baby teeth.

Remember that your child is now in a transitional period where teeth are coming and going and can look awkward until your child is finished replacing his teeth. This early transition phase is also fondly called the “Ugly Duckling” period. Take comfort in the fact that most children go through this awkward phase.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.