Why Do We Have Baby Teeth?
What's the point of having baby teeth? Do they serve a purpose before our adult teeth come in?
Baby teeth live a tragic life, really. They hang around for a few years then literally drop out, replaced by our permanent adult teeth. The process keeps the Tooth Fairy employed, at least, but you may find yourself wondering: Why do we have baby teeth at all? The answer is refreshingly straightforward: So kids can chew food while they're still kids.
Humans, like most mammals, are diphyodonts, meaning we grow two sets of teeth as we age. The first set come in while our skulls are still small and developing. But if they stayed in permanently, they'd be too small and spaced out for effective chewing. Permanent teeth take their place as the skull settles in, size-wise. Trace Dominguez has the details in today's DNews dispatch.
Science World: Why Do We Have Baby Teeth?
Animal Diversity Web: Milk Teeth and the Replacement of Teeth
Mouth Healthy: Eruption Charts