Do you really know your teeth? Your pearly whites help you chew and play a large part in forming the shape of your mouth and consequently your entire face. They make up your smile which is a big part of the first impressions you make on others. But could you tell the difference between which tooth is a bicuspid and which is an incisor? Shouldn’t we know a little more about something so important to us as our teeth? So let’s take a moment to get to know our pearly whites a little better.
Human beings grow two sets of teeth in our lifetime: the primary teeth and the secondary teeth. The primary teeth are often called the “baby teeth” because they begin growing in when we are only about six months old and are usually all in place by the time we reach three years of age. The secondary teeth, commonly referred to as the “adult teeth”, begin growing in as the primary teeth begin to fall out. This process usually begins about about age six and is over by age twelve or thirteen.
The average adult person usually has 32 adult teeth but not all teeth are the same. Your individual teeth have different shapes that determine their functions in your mouth. They could be compared to the players on your favorite basketball team: each plays their own position but they work together as a team.
The Types of Teeth
- Incisors: The incisors are the eight teeth in the very front of your mouth. We have four of these thin teeth on the bottom and four on top. These are primarily used for biting or breaking off pieces of food.
- Canines: These sharp, pointed teeth are named after the fangs of a canine (dog) due to their appearance. People have four canine teeth, two on top and two on the bottom, one on either side of our incisors. Your canines are used to rip and tear food.
- Bicuspids These teeth, also known as premolars, are wider and flatter than the first two types. They’re used for chewing and grinding foods. We humans have four bicuspids, two on the top and two on the bottom, one on either side of the canine teeth.
- Molars: Molars are flat-topped teeth used for chewing and grinding that grow at rear of your mouth, four on top and four on the bottom, two on each side. The area where your molars grow commonly experiences tooth decay due to its’ difficulty to clean as thoroughly due to their hard-to-reach location. Many people also grow third molars, also known as “wisdom teeth” due to their late arrival (late teens to early twenties). Four third molars can erupt, one each side, top and bottom. Contrary to the name they do not automatically bring wisdom but they can bring pain. Wisdom teeth that do not erupt properly are said to be impacted and require a surgical procedure to remove. This is a fairly common dental procedure. These teeth are also prone to tooth decay due to their location at the very rear of the mouth.
Now that you know “your team” a little better, you will be better able to communicate with Dr. Spink when you may be having a problem. For example, if you have pain in rear of of your mouth when you chew, you may have an issue with one of your top molars. At the very least, maybe you now have a better understanding of the importance of keeping all your teeth in good health as it’s been said that a good team is only as strong as its weakest player. For this reason it’s important to schedule regular cleanings and exams with Dr. Spink at Spink Dentistry in Birmingham AL. To schedule call 205.235.5043.