How much do you know about your teeth?
You may not give much thought to your teeth except when you’re brushing, flossing, or rinsing, but you might find it interesting to learn about the four types of teeth that inhabit your mouth. What are they called, and what are their functions?
Your incisors are the stars of your smile; they’re the pearly whites at the front and center of your mouth. They include your two large front teeth on the top and the teeth on each side of them. They also include the four teeth in the front of your mouth on the bottom. Altogether, you have eight incisors. The incisors’ job is to enable you to take bites of food. Children usually get their first incisors when they’re about six months old; adult incisors show up between ages six and eight.
The canines are easy to identify; they’re the four sharpest teeth in your mouth, located right next to the incisors on both the top and bottom. The canines enable you to tear and grind tough foods, such as meat. Children get their first canines when they’re between 16 and 20 months old. Permanent canines usually grow in between ages 9 and 12.
The bicuspid teeth, otherwise known as premolars, are the eight teeth next to your canines. There are two bicuspids behind each canine on both the top and bottom of your mouth. These help you chew and grind food. Children get their first bicuspids around age 10.
The molars occupy the back of the mouth, and they first appear when a person is around 6 years old. The molars, like the bicuspids, help you chew and grind food. You have eight molars, four on each side of the mouth.
Many young adults develop four more molars, one behind all the other teeth on each side, top and bottom. These are known as wisdom teeth. It isn’t uncommon for wisdom teeth to contribute to dental problems, such as crowding, gum issues, and decay. Even adults whose wisdom teeth aren’t causing discomfort might choose to have them surgically removed to prevent future problems.
If you count the wisdom teeth, the normal adult mouth has 32 pearly whites. However, there are a few dental conditions that can affect the number of teeth a person has:
- Hypodontia is a condition where teeth do not grow in at all. It might affect a person’s entire mouth, but it is more common for only a couple of teeth to be absent. Dentures or implants are the most common way to address this issue.
- Hyperdontia is the opposite of hypodontia. This is when a person has too many teeth. These extra teeth can cause crowding and other issues, so a dentist will usually recommend removing these extra teeth.
Your teeth, including your incisors, canines, bicuspids, and molars, are all important for your quality of life. Take care of your smile so your teeth can last a lifetime!
Image via Flickr by StacyZ aka Adore_One