Our teeth play a large part in shaping our mouths, eating, talking, and smile. But how well do you know them? Do you know which one is a bicuspid and which is a molar? Dr. Mark Jefferies is a Herndon, VA dentist who helps educate patients about their teeth and how to keep them healthy.
Primary vs. Secondary Teeth
Humans grow two complete sets of teeth in our lifetime: primary teeth and secondary teeth. Primary teeth are commonly known as baby teeth, and secondary teeth are the adult teeth. Baby teeth begin growing when we are about six months old and are usually in place by age three. Secondary teeth begin replacing primary teeth between the ages of six and twelve years old.
The average adult has 32 adult teeth, but they are not all the same. There are four types of teeth that serve different functions in the mouth, similar to the way the players on a football team all have different positions. They play their own role but work together as a team.
The Types of Teeth
Incisors: Incisors are the eight teeth in the front of your mouth that you see display when you smile. There are four on top and four on the bottom and are used for biting pieces of food into smaller, chewable pieces.
Canines: These teeth have a sharp, pointed appearance and are named after the fangs of a canine (dog). There is one canine on either side of each set of incisors, making it a total of four canines in the mouth. Canine teeth are used for tearing and ripping 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: There are eight molars in the mouth and they are located in the back of the mouth, as they are used for chewing and grinding food. There are four on top and four on the bottom. Molars commonly experience tooth decay due to how much they are used and the fact that they are more difficult to clean thoroughly.
Some people grow third molars in early adulthood, which you might be familiar with as wisdom teeth. These have a higher probability of growing in incorrectly and may need to be removed if they cause problems.
Comprehensive Dental Care in Herndon, VA
Knowing your teeth will empower you to understand your oral health and prevent tooth decay. Knowing that molars are difficult to clean and more prone to tooth decay means you can take extra care to make sure they are cleaned properly, and if you’re experiencing pain, you can specifically tell the dentist where your symptoms are.
For answers to more complex dental questions or concerns, schedule an appointment with Dr. Jefferies.