Types of Teeth

January 11, 2017

As we mentioned in our last blog, our teeth are surprisingly complex. We mentioned that our teeth are made out of several distinctive components, including enamel, dentin, cementum, and pulp. Today, we’re going to take some time to talk about different types of teeth that occupy the mouth. Humans, like many other mammals, have four distinct types of teeth: Incisors, canines, premolars, and molars (which include our wisdom teeth). For today’s dental blog, let’s take a look at the form and function of each of these various tooth shapes:

Types of teeth diagram

The Functionality of Different Tooth Shapes

Incisors: Your incisors reside at the front of your mouth. You’ve heard the song, All I Want for Christmas Are My Two Front Teeth; well, those are your incisors, and you have eight of them (four on the top and four on the bottom). Incisors are best for biting into food. Think about biting into an apple. Your sharp incisors wedge and cut into the apple, sending a bite-sized chunk to the rest of your teeth.

Canines: There’s a reason why dogs are called canines: Dogs have prominent canine teeth that are best used to tear into food, especially meat. Humans also canine teeth, which help us to tear through tougher foods. Your canine teeth surround your incisors, and they’re particularly pointy. If you’ve ever seen a vampire movie, you’ve probably noticed that vampires have extra long canine teeth.

Premolars: Your premolars are just past your canine teeth, a bit farther back in the mouth. Like our incisors, we have eight premolars (four on the top and four on the bottom). These teeth are far flatter than our canine and incisor teeth, making them ideal for chewing and grinding food.

Molars: Since childhood, you’ve likely been told how important it is to chew your food; your molars and premolars help you to do just that. Molars are slightly bigger than premolars but serve the same purpose. Your molars and premolars can pulverize almost any food, and they prepare your food for the rest of your digestive tract.

Wisdom Teeth (or third molars): Your wisdom teeth are also considered molars. Wisdom teeth can be especially bothersome since they can stay impacted (failing to grow out of the jaw). Also, some folks are simply born without wisdom teeth! As humans have developed over eons of time, the jaw and mouth have shrunk, leaving little room for our wisdom teeth to grow. Thus, wisdom teeth often crowd the rest of our teeth, and they can lead to misalignment. That’s why wisdom teeth are often painful, often need removing, and may lead to orthodontic correction.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to make regular visits to your local Aurora CO dentist to keep all of your teeth healthy and clean. You can always stop in at Hampden Dental Group for a checkup. Feel free to get in touch with us to schedule an appointment!