Know Your Teeth: Meet the Team

Your teeth chew your food and shape your mouth and therefore your entire face. Your teeth create your smile which helps you make good first impressions on other people. But how well do you really know your teeth? Most people don’t know which tooth is a molar and which is an incisor. When we have a toothache and are asked by Dr. Poorva Parnaik of Dental Creations in Medford NJ, ‘which tooth is bothering you?’, many of us simply point and say, “that one!” like we’re pointing out a suspect in a lineup at the police station. So let’s take a moment to briefly get to know our teeth a little better.

Meet Your Teeth

As humans, we develop two sets of teeth in our lifetime: our primary teeth and our secondary teeth. Our primary teeth are frequently called our “baby teeth” because they begin coming in when we are only about six months old and are usually all grown in by the time we reach three years of age. Our secondary teeth, most often called our “adult teeth”, grow in as the primary teeth begin to fall out. This process usually begins around the age of six and finishes up by around age twelve.

The average adult person usually has 32 secondary teeth when they’ve all grown in but these teeth are not all the same. Your teeth have varied shapes based on their jobs and where they are located in your mouth. You could compare them to the players on your favorite football team: each has plays their own position but they work as a team to score points.

The Types of Teeth

  1. Molars: Molars, flat-topped teeth at the rear of your mouth, are used for chewing and grinding. We have eight molars, four on top and four on the bottom, two on each side. Molars are located in an area that commonly experiences tooth decay due the fact that it is more difficult to clean thoroughly. Many people also have third molars, more commonly referred to as “wisdom teeth” because of when they usually grow in (late teens to early twenties). Four third molars will erupt, one each side, top and bottom. Wisdom teeth that don’t grow in properly due to tooth crowding are said to be “impacted” and usually require a surgical procedure to remove them. Wisdom teeth are also prone to tooth decay due to their location at the very rear of the mouth.
  2. Bicuspids: Sometimes called premolars, bicuspids are used for chewing and grinding foods. We have four bicuspids in our mouth, two on the top and two on the bottom, one on either side to the front of your molars.
  3. Canines: Canines are named after the fangs of a dog- a canine- because of their sharp, pointed appearance. We have four canines in our mouths, two on top and two on the bottom, in front of your bicuspids. Canine teeth are used to rip and tear foods.
  4. Incisors: These are the eight teeth in the very front of your mouth, used for biting off pieces of food. We have four incisors on the bottom and four on top, in front of your canine teeth.

Now that you know you teeth a little better, you will be better able to communicate with Dr. Parnaik when you may be having a problem. For example, if you have pain in the front of your mouth when you take a bite, you may be having a problem with an incisor or canine. At the very least, maybe you now have a better understanding of the roles your teeth play in chewing your food. Most coaches will tell you that a good team is only as strong as its weakest player. That’s why it’s important to schedule regular cleanings and exams with Dr. Parnaik of Dental Creations in Medford NJ. To schedule call 609.365.0673 or request an appointment online.