What are the Types of Teeth?

Your teeth help you chew and shape your mouth and consequently your entire face. Your teeth help you smile which is how you make good first impressions on other people. But how well do you really know them? A lot of us don’t know which tooth is a molar and which is an incisor. When we have a toothache and are asked by Dr. William Harper or Dr. Jennifer Anderson, ‘which tooth is bothering you?’, many of us simply point and say, “that one!” like we’re pointing out a suspect in a police lineup. So let’s take a brief moment to get to know our teeth a little better.

Meet Your Teeth

As humans, we grow two sets of teeth in our lifetime: our primary teeth and our secondary teeth.  Our primary teeth are often called our “baby teeth” because they begin coming in when we are only about six months old and are usually all grown in by the time we reach three years of age. Our secondary teeth, also called our “adult teeth”, grow in as our primary teeth begin to fall out. This usually begins around the age of six and finishes up by around age twelve.

The average adult person usually has 32 secondary teeth when they’re all finished growing in but they are not all the same. Your teeth have different shapes based on their jobs and where they are located in your mouth. You could liken them to the players on your favorite football team: each has plays their own position but they work as a team to score points.  

The Types of Teeth

  1. Molars: Your flat-topped molars, also used for chewing and grinding, grow at rear of your mouth, four on top and four on the bottom, two on each side. Molars are located in an area that commonly experiences tooth decay due the fact that it is more difficult to clean thoroughly. Many people also have third molars, more commonly referred to as “wisdom teeth” because of when they usually grow in (late teens to early twenties). Four third molars will erupt, one each side, top and bottom. Wisdom teeth that don’t grow in properly due to tooth crowding are said to be “impacted” and usually require a surgical procedure to remove them. Wisdom teeth are also prone to tooth decay due to their location at the very rear of the mouth.
  2. Bicuspids: These teeth, sometimes called premolars, are used for chewing and grinding foods. There are four bicuspids in our mouth, two on the top and two on the bottom, one on either side to the front of your molars.
  3. Canines: These teeth are named after the fangs of a dog- a canine- due to their sharp, pointed appearance. We have four canines in our mouths, two on top and two on the bottom, in front of your bicuspids. Canine teeth are used to rip and tear food.
  4. Incisors: These are the eight teeth in the very front of your mouth, primarily used for biting off pieces of food. We have four incisors on the bottom and four on top, in front of your canine teeth.

Now that you know you teeth a little better, you will be better able to communicate with Dr. Harper or Dr. Anderson when you may be having a problem. For example, if you have pain in the front of your mouth when you take a bite, you may be having a problem with an incisor or canine. At the very least, maybe you now better understand the roles your teeth play in chewing up your food. It’s commonly believed by sports coaches that a good team is only as strong as its’ weakest player. That’s why it’s important to schedule regular cleanings and exams with Dr. Harper or Dr. Anderson in Newport News VA. To schedule call 757.414.7227 or request an appointment online.