We're answering questions about teeth with a friendly dentist! Theron Main, a pediatric dentist in S. Burlington, Vt answers: Why do we have (only) two sets of teeth? How and why do baby teeth get loose and fall out? Why don't babies have teeth when they're born? Why are teeth white? What's the purpose of gums? How does toothpaste work? How does sugar cause cavities?
We get two sets of teeth to better match the way we eat and grow. "We eat a bigger variety of foods as we get older and our mouths are bigger, and we need more power than the baby teeth can provide," says Dr. Main, who wanted to be a dentist as early as age 12, after getting what he felt like was remarkable care from his childhood dentist.
"The outer layer covering and protecting the teeth, called enamel, is thicker in adult teeth; and the inner layer, called dentin, supports the enamel and that's also thicker in adult teeth. Baby teeth don't need to be as thick as the adult teeth."
Alligators and sharks can make new teeth whenever they lose them, but that's not the case for humans. So it's important to brush and floss every day and see a dentist regularly to make sure your teeth stay health. "Teeth are the gateway to the mouth," says Dr. Main, and they're important to overall health.
Listen to the episode to learn more about the tools dentists use and for answers to all the questions from our curious listeners!