How well do you know your teeth? Our teeth perform several functions beyond chewing. They help shape our mouth and entire face, and they make up our smile which helps us make first impressions on other people. Despite daily use, a lot of people don’t know how many kinds of teeth there are and how they work together. Dr. Brent Blaylock is a dentist in Durham, NC who helps patients understand their oral health, and can help you learn about the types of teeth.
Primary vs. Secondary Teeth
Humans develop two sets of teeth in our lifetime: primary and secondary. The primary teeth are commonly referred to as “baby teeth” because they begin growing in infancy and are eventually replaced by secondary teeth. These “adult teeth” develop between the ages of six and 12 years old.
The average adult human usually has 32 adult teeth but they are not all the same. Your teeth have different jobs based on their shapes. They are comparable to the players on your favorite football team: each has plays their own position but they work as a team.
The Types of Teeth
Incisors: These are the eight teeth in the front of your mouth that you see when you smile. We have four incisors on the bottom and four on top. These are used primarily for biting off pieces of food.
Canines: These teeth are named after a canine’s (dog’s) fangs due to their sharp, pointed appearance. Humans have four canines, two on top and two on the bottom, with one on either side of our incisors. Canine teeth are used to rip and tear food.
Bicuspids: We use our bicuspids, also called premolars, to chew and grind our food. The four bicuspids are located behind each of the canine teeth.
Molars: Humans have eight molars in total. These flat-topped teeth, also used for chewing and grinding, grow at the rear of your mouth, four on top and four on the bottom, two on each side. Molars are an area that commonly experience tooth decay due the fact that they are used constantly but can be difficult to clean as thoroughly.
Many people also grow third molars, more commonly referred to as “wisdom teeth” due to their late arrival (late teens to early twenties). Four third molars will erupt, one each side, top and bottom. Wisdom teeth that fail to emerge are said to be impacted and require a surgical procedure to remove. These are also prone to tooth decay due to their location at the very rear of the mouth.
Comprehensive Dental Care in Durham, NC
Now that you know you teeth a little better, you will be better able to communicate with Dr. Blaylock when you may be having a problem. For example, if you have pain in the top front of your mouth when you bite, you may have an issue with one of your top incisors. At the very least, maybe you now appreciate the roles your teeth play in chewing on your food. It’s been said that a good team is only as strong as its weakest player. This is why it’s important to schedule regular cleanings and exams with Dr. Blaylock in Durham, NC. To schedule call 919.518.9963 or request an appointment online.