By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The average going rate for the Tooth Fairy these days is almost $5 — $4.66 to be exact. Losing a tooth is a rite of passage for a young child, but sort of a strange phenomenon when you think about it.

That has Art from Brooklyn Park wanting to know: Why do we have baby teeth? Good Question.

When you’re little, you remember where exactly you lost your first baby tooth.

Humans are diphyodonts, which means we grow two sets of teeth over our lives.

Elise Sarvas is a pediatric dentist at the U.

“We don’t know why humans are categorized in the diphyodont. Most mammals are,” Sarvas said.

But here’s what we do know: Teeth — baby and adult — are full-sized when they erupt through our gums. They grow differently than bones.

“Teeth grow from a little ball of squishy cells and then they calcify and get bigger,” Sarvas said. “Most of our bones start as cartilage and then they calcify and grow with us.

“Those baby teeth also hold space for our adult teeth once they come in.”

Our adult teeth wouldn’t fit in our young jaws. That would cause all kinds of problems, especially during childbirth.

Even though they fall out, dentists say we need to take care of the baby teeth. Many of us still have them into our teens.

“They help us develop speech patterns, they help us chew,” Sarvas said. “If you get an infection or a cavity in your baby tooth, that infection can travel down to the adult tooth developing below.”

You might wonder: Why are baby teeth usually straight and adult teeth aren’t? Our experts says how straight your adult teeth are has more to do with the size and shape of your jaw and a lot of that is genetics. She says if parents had braces, there’s a good chance their kids will need them too.

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