The Different Types of Teeth and their Function

The Different Types of Teeth and their Function


Your teeth play an extremely vital role in your ability to eat and speak and stay healthy.

Most of us tend to take our teeth for granted, until something goes wrong. Our teeth enable us to break down (masticate) food, pronounce words and provide contour to our face.

By reading up on the anatomy and the functions that your teeth perform, youíll be taking the first step toward giving them the attention they deserve.

How much do you really know about your pearly whites?

The Development of Teeth

Humans have two sets of teeth, Primary (deciduous/milk) teeth and Permanent (adult)teeth.

Primary teeth set contains the milk/baby teeth. The first primary teeth appears in the mouth when the baby is around 6 months old. Children generally have around 20 primary teeth.

Permanent teeth start to grow in between the ages of 6 and 12. Most adults have 32 permanent teeth.

Once permanent teeth develops, four distinct types of can identified and these four types of teeth play a major role in your life:

Incisors: Incisors are the eight teeth that are present right in the front and centerof your mouth (four on top and four on bottom). They are the ones that are seen immediately when you smile. They are used to take bites of your food. Primary Incisors are the first teeth to erupt and appear at around 6 months of age, the next set appears between 6 and 8 years of age.

Canines: Your four canines are the next type of teeth situated beside the incisors. They are your sharpest teeth and are used for ripping and tearing food apart. Primary canines appear when the baby is around a year and a half with the upper canines coming in just before the lower canines. In permanent teeth however, the order is reversed. Lower canines erupt first at around age of 9 and the uppers arrive between 11 and 12 years of age.

Premolars: Premolars, or bicuspids as they are called, are used for chewing and grinding food. You have four premolars on each side of your mouth, two on the upper and two on the lower jaw. The first premolars appear at around the age of 10 while the second premolars arrive about a year later.

Molars: Primary molars are the main teeth whose function involves chewing and grinding of food. These appear when the child is 12 – 15 months of age. These molars are known as deciduous molars and are replaced by the first and second permanent premolars (four upper and four lower). The permanent molars do not replace, they come in behind the last primary tooth. The first molars erupt when the child turns 6 (before the primary molars fall out) while the second molars come in between 11 and 13 years of age.

We also have something called the third molars also commonly known as wisdom teeth. They are the last to develop and do not erupt before the child is around 18-20 years. Some people never develop third molars at all in life.

You should never take your teeth or oral health for granted. For good dental health, brush and floss your teeth regularly, donít smoke, eat a healthy diet, and see your dentist regularly for dental cleanings and checkups. A healthy mouth makes for a healthy body and a pretty smile. Apart from the daily care you take off your teeth at home, it is recommended that you should at least visit a dentist every 6 months for a thorough checkup of your oral health.


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