Types of Teeth & What They Do
Teeth help you chew your food, making it easier to digest. Each type of tooth has a slightly different shape and performs a different job. Types of teeth include:
Incisors Incisors are the eight teeth in the front of your mouth (four on top and four on bottom). These are the teeth that you use to take bites of your food. Incisors are usually the first teeth to erupt — at around 6 months for your baby teeth, and between ages 6 and 8 for your adult set.
Canines Your four canines (fangs) are the next type of teeth to develop. These are your sharpest teeth and are used for ripping and tearing food apart. Primary canines generally appear between 16 and 20 months, with the upper canines coming in just ahead of the lower canines. In permanent teeth, the order is reversed, with lower canines erupting around age 9 and the uppers arriving between ages 11 and 12.
Premolars Premolars, or bicuspids, are used for chewing and grinding food. Adults have four premolars on each side of their mouths — two on the upper and two on the lower jaw. There are no primary premolars; the first premolars appear around age 10, with the second premolars arriving about a year later. These take the places of the first and second primary molars (described below).
Molars Molars are also used for chewing and grinding food. Primary molars, also known as deciduous molars, appear between 12 and 28 months, and are replaced by the first and second premolars (four upper and four lower) described above.
The permanent molars (also four upper and four lower) do not replace any primary teeth, but come in behind all of them, further back in the jaw. The first permanent molars erupt at around age 6 (before the primary molars fall out), while the second molars come in between ages 11 and 13.
Third molars The third molars are commonly known as wisdom teeth. These are the last teeth to develop and don't typically erupt until age 18 to 20. Some people never develop third molars at all. For those who do, these molars may cause crowding and need to be removed. If they don't fully erupt they are said to be impacted, and are commonly removed.
Your mouth is important, so don’t take your teeth or oral health for granted. For good dental health, brush and floss your teeth regularly, don't smoke, eat a healthy diet, and visit Key West Dental Group, in St. Charles, MO, for dental cleanings and checkups. A healthy mouth makes for a healthy body — and a pretty smile.