While many of us may not put too much thought into our teeth every day, their importance and function in our daily lives cannot be underestimated. From chewing our food to helping us smile and speak, teeth perform such a vital role in the way we live. However, aside from those studying to become a dental assistant, there are probably few who really critically think about the different types of teeth and the role they play in our lives.
Rather than delve into the benefits of oral hygiene, today we wanted to take a closer look into the different types of teeth we have and their use. While different numbers abound, it’s generally accepted that we have three different types of teeth: Incisors, canines, and molars. Yet, many will happily distinguish between the three different types of molars, including premolars and third molars. That leaves us with five different types of teeth. Below, we explore each type of tooth and its function in the mouth.
Incisors are often the first adult teeth that grow in after our primary teeth, or baby teeth, and make up most of our smile. There are eight incisors in the mouth; four in the top-center of our mouth and four in the bottom-center. These teeth are characteristically thin, flat-bottom teeth that help us to make the initial bite on our food. We bite into food with our incisors, tugging and pulling into our mouths. Incisors have a narrow-edge, and are adapted for cutting. The incisors are situated between the cuspids, or canines, and are often referred to as anterior teeth or front teeth because of their prevalence in smiling and talking.
Cuspids / Canines
Cuspids, also known as canines, are the closest link between the human mouth and that of a carnivorous predator, like a tiger or wolf. Mirroring the pointed teeth we associate with predatory animals and vampires, these are sharp, pointed teeth on either side of our incisors that are used to do exactly what they look like they are meant to do–tear into food and rip it apart. These pointed teeth usually come in permanently around the ten year mark, with the bottom cuspids arriving just before the upper cuspids. One feature of cuspids and canine teeth is the fact that they are our longest teeth, with a pointed end, and surprisingly, only one implanted root. Canines rip food, but their position on either side of the mouth help guide the mouth and other teeth into the best biting position.
Molars are our main masticators–that is, molars are the teeth we most commonly associate with chewing. While many may only recognize three types of teeth rather than five, the discrepancy comes in distinguishing between different types of molars.
Molars are simply large teeth with a flatter surface that are used to chew food into small, easily consumable pieces. Let’s look at the different types of molars below.
Premolars / Bicuspids
Premolars, or first molars, are our first molar teeth that tend to come in around twelve or thirteen years of age. Premolars sit next to the cuspids in the mouth and are the foremost molars in the mouth.
Wisdom Teeth / Third Molars
Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are often referred to as third molars because they are the last teeth to come into the mouth. Many often get their wisdom teeth removed; these teeth sit so far back in the jaw that they can often cause issues if not removed.
For more information on dentistry, teeth, or how to start your new career as a dental assistant, contact ACI today.