The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Digital Library

Child Skull with Recessed Adult Teeth

About This Item


Child Skull with Recessed Adult Teeth


Dentition, primary
Dentition, permanent


Every child’s jaws are packed with teeth, but we don’t think about them until they start to “erupt” in the gums. This skull belonged to a child who died from unknown causes, but his or her tooth development was perfectly normal. A skillful anatomist carefully cut away the outer bone layers of the jaws to show the adult teeth hidden below the primary teeth (also called baby or deciduous teeth).

The child had already lost most of his or her upper primary teeth, but the adult ones had not yet erupted. Most of the lower primary teeth are still in place, with the adult teeth embedded near the base of the jaw. In the painful teething process, primary teeth start to break through the gums when babies are about 6 to 10 months old. Shedding primary teeth, which begins around age 7, hurts much less.

The anatomist also pared away the compact bone on the outer layers of this skull to show the less dense, spongy bone, known as diploë, beneath. This layer reduces the weight of the skull while still protecting the brain. Below the diploë is another, thinner layer of compact bone.


M.H. Cryer Anatomical Collection


Digitized by the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia


Before 1941






20th Century

Original Format

Human skull


“Child Skull with Recessed Adult Teeth,” The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Digital Library, accessed September 25, 2021,