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You have probably noticed that you have different types of teeth.  Have you ever wondered why?  It’s because we need all four types of teeth to eat efficiently.  Reptiles such as fish and snakes have teeth that are all the same.  A mouth full of sharp, pointy teeth works well if you need to disable your food or inject it with poison before you eat it.  Since we have more advanced ways of obtaining food, we need advanced teeth to eat with.

Mammals have a more complex diet than reptiles and have teeth which are specialized.  All mammals have four distinct types of teeth.  Since humans are the most advanced mammals, we have four types of teeth with very specialized functions.   In addition to four different types of teeth, mammals have two sets of teeth; permanent teeth and deciduous teeth (baby teeth or milk teeth.  Humans have 32 permanent teeth and 20 deciduous teeth.  Most deciduous teeth have erupted through the gums by age two.

Your Four Types of Teeth:

Incisors.  Both adults and children have eight incisors.  Your incisors are the four front teeth on the top and bottom of your mouth.  Incisors are used for biting.  They resemble a chisel; flat on the front, slightly curved in the back, with a narrow, sharp surface area.  Incisors are often used to cut the thread and remove hangnails.  Incisors are usually the first teeth to erupt in babies, and most babies will get their first incisor at about six months old.   Incisors are also the first permanent teeth to erupt at about 7 years of age.

Canines. Adults and children have four canines; two on the top, and two on the bottom.  Canines are the two larger teeth on the sides of your incisors.  Canines are used for gripping and ripping food.  Your canines are the longest and tallest teeth in your mouth.  They are also the strongest and the sharpest.  Deciduous canines begin to appear at 8 months, and permanent canines begin to erupt at around 9 years of age.

Bicuspids (premolars).  Adults have eight bicuspids and children have four bicuspids.  They are located in the back of canines.  Bicuspids are used for chewing and grinding food.  Bicuspid teeth have features of both canines and molars.  They have raised areas (cusps) in order to grip, and they have a wider surface area than canines.  The wider surface of bicuspids is used for grinding and chewing.  Deciduous bicuspids erupt at about 10 months of age, and permanent bicuspids come in at about 13 years of age.

Molars. Children have 4 molars and adults have up to 12.  Molars are used to chew and grind food.  They are broad and resemble a rounded square.  Deciduous molars erupt at around 1 year of age.  Permanent molars appear at about 6 years of age.  The second set of molars appears around age 12, and the third set (wisdom teeth) begin to appear at age 18.

Permanent molars come in behind deciduous teeth as your jaws grow large enough to accommodate them.  Permanent incisors, canines, and bicuspids replace deciduous teeth which have fallen out.

Call us to make sure all your 4 types of teeth are healthy.