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Have you ever noticed how your teeth are shaped and wonder why that is? Each tooth has a unique function and is vital to your overall oral health. Teeth have two categories which are further separated into four different types: incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. This article will help you understand these differences and by brushing up on your teeth knowledge you’ll be taking the first step in giving your teeth the attention they deserve.
Primary teeth or “baby teeth” are the first teeth a person will have. Normally, these teeth start to come in around six months of age and finish developing around three years old. There are twenty primary teeth, ten on the top and ten on the bottom. These teeth will stay in place until age six when the teeth start to fall out and be replaced by the permanent teeth. Usually, all of the teeth will be in place by age twelve and most have thirty-two teeth. Contrary to popular belief, just because the primary teeth fall out does not mean they should not be cared for. If the teeth were to fall out prematurely they could cause the permanent teeth to shift which in turn can cause further problems as an adult. Also, teeth play an important role in speech development and can cause children to struggle if they fall out too early.
The first type of teeth are the 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.
The four canines are the next 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 erupting first. With permanent teeth, the order is reversed, with lower canines erupting around age 9 and the uppers arriving between ages 11 and 12.
Premolars, or bicuspids, are the third to erupt and 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. Premolars act as transitional teeth from the canines to the molars. Premolars are much smaller than molars and only have two cusps (the points on the tooth) as opposed to molars which have four.
The last teeth to join are the molars, which are also used for chewing and grinding food. They have a much larger surface area and are the strongest. Primary molars, also known as deciduous molars, appear between 12 and 28 months and are replaced by the first and second premolars described above. The permanent molars 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 or wisdom teeth will generally erupt between ages 18-20, however, not everyone has them. For those who do they are generally removed due to the overcrowding that occurs.
Hopefully, this article has given you a little more insight into your teeth. Now that you know more about your teeth, perhaps your oral health will be easier to maintain. Our office is always happy to answer any questions and our website is full of informative articles.