How well do you know your teeth? They help us chew. They play a large part in shaping the shape of your mouth and consequently your entire face. They make up your smile which helps you make first impressions on others. Yet many people don’t know which tooth is a bicuspid and which is an incisor.
When we have a toothache and are asked by Dr. Donald Reid, ‘which tooth is bothering you?’, many of us simply point and say, “that one!” as if we’re implicating an unknown suspect in a police lineup. So let’s take a moment to get to know these power players in our mouth a little better.
We humans have two sets of teeth in our lifetime: the primary teeth and the secondary teeth. The primary teeth are more commonly known as 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, also known as the “adult teeth”, begin growing in as the primary teeth begin to fall out. This process usually takes place between the ages of six and twelve 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 very front of your mouth. We have four incisors on the bottom and four on top. These are primarily used for biting off pieces of food.
- Canines- These teeth are named after the fangs of a canine (dog) due to their sharp, pointed appearance. We have four canines, two on top and two on the bottom, one on either side of our incisors. Canine teeth are used to rip and tear food.
- Bicuspids- These teeth, also known as premolars, are used for chewing and grinding foods. We have four bicuspids, two on the top and two on the bottom, one on either side of the canine teeth.
- Molars- These flat-topped teeth, also used for chewing and grinding, grow at 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.
Now that you know you teeth a little better, you will be better able to communicate with Dr. Reid 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 the Dr. Reid in Truckee, CA. To schedule, call 530.206.0392 or request an appointment online.