Difference Between Milk Teeth and Permanent Teeth


As per American Dental Association, baby teeth start erupting in a child's mouth at six months and continue until they are about six years old. When kids are six years old, milk or primary teeth start falling and are replaced by permanent teeth. Baby teeth play a vital role in assisting a child in learning how to speak and chew and serve as a placeholder for the permanent teeth that eventually erupt.


Here are a few differences between primary teeth and permanent teeth:


The enamel of the primary teeth is thinner than the enamel of the permanent teeth, as per the American Academy of Pediatrics. This is why primary teeth often look more white than permanent ones. When a child has a mix of primary and permanent teeth, you can easily see that the permanent teeth are more yellow than the primary teeth. Due to thin enamel, more intake of sugar, and less fluoride treatment, it leads to rapid decaying of teeth, also called baby bottle decay. To start good oral healthcare habits, one must visit the dentist regularly.


There is a difference in the shape of the teeth between permanent and primary teeth. When the permanent frontal teeth erupt, they have a small number of bumps on the top called mamelons. A dentist can also take the mamelons off till the teeth look. Roots have different shapes as the primary teeth are designed to fall.

Number of teeth

Another significant difference between permanent teeth and primary teeth is their numbers. As per American Dental Association, there are 20 primary and 32 permanent teeth, including wisdom teeth. One reason is the size of the mouth which will accommodate all teeth. Children do not have space for 8-12 molars like adults. But when they grow older, their law lengthens to make space for the extra teeth.


Besides a thinner enamel, milk teeth are also softer. A soft enamel means more susceptibility to string acids, juices, and other food items that break it down and result in a cavity. Because of the thin enamel, the bacterial acids will dissolve it quickly, leading to lush carries compared to permanent teeth.

Big chambers for pulp

Milk teeth possess big pulp chambers, which is the part of the tooth that consists of nerves and blood vessels. It is essential because large pulp chambers along with thin enamel mean that small cavities result in infection of the tooth and surrounding tissues. Besides dental cavities, big pulp chambers also mean minor trauma to the milk teeth, resulting in diseases and inflammations.

Knowing the difference between primary and permanent teeth is essential as they help determine the dental disease dynamics inside anyone's mouth. This capability to differentiate between permanent and milk teeth is essential for any dental practitioner as it assists them in preparing a treatment strategy when the requirement arises.

The difference between primary and permanent teeth is crucial as they determine the dynamics of dental diseases inside the individual's mouth. This ability to distinguish between milk and permanent teeth is critical for dental practitioners as it helps them chart a treatment plan when needed.

Take proper care of your teeth.

Because primary teeth fall out, there is a widespread misconception that they do not need any protection or care. Just like you offer tender care and love to your permanent teeth, the primary teeth also need that much care. When teeth are lost or fall early, they do not act as space savers and might not leave enough space for the permanent teeth. A child might also face problems in teeth alignment.

To protect the milk teeth, help your child to follow good oral health hygiene as early as possible. Make use of toothpaste to decrease the possibility of getting cavities. See your dentist regularly because they keep an eye on the teeth development and rectify any issues with the baby teeth. Teaching your child to take good care of their teeth from a young age will protect them and instill confidence about their smile's health.

Wrapping up

Primary and permanent teeth are equally vital to growth and development. Both kinds of teeth need urgent oral care. With proper care, permanent teeth last for an extended period.




About the Author:

Suprithi Choudhary, M.Pharm (Pharmacology) Medical Content writer

Suprithi is a Pharma Professional working as a medical content writer and previously worked as a Research Scientist and Senior Research Analyst


  • C.M Academy
  • Attended the Panjab University- Chandigarh, Pharma post-graduate in Pharmacology

Special thanks to Dr Deepak Kulkarni, a dental surgeon with over 23 years of experience who proofread this blog. He graduated from the H.K.E's Dental College, Gulbarga, and has certifications in ACHS International Accreditation Education Plan; Advanced Rotary Endodontic - Restorative Continuum; and Leadership, Team Building and Customer Service

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