How Well Do You Know Your Teeth?

Do you know your teeth?  What do you know about them? They help us chew and play a huge part in shaping your mouth and consequently your entire face. They’re the components of your smile which helps you make first impressions on others. But many of us don’t know which tooth is a bicuspid and which is an incisor. When we have a toothache and are asked by Dr. Leonard Hess of Monroe NC, ‘which tooth is bothering you?’, many of us simply point and say, “that one!” like we’re identifying an unknown suspect in a police lineup. So let’s take a moment to get to know these strangers in our mouth a little better.

You will have two sets of teeth in your lifetime: your primary teeth and your secondary teeth. Your primary teeth are often called your “baby teeth” because they begin growing in when you’re only about six months old. These teeth are usually all in place by the time you are three years of age. Your secondary teeth, also known as your “adult teeth”, begin coming in as the primary teeth begin to fall out. This process usually happens between the ages of six and twelve years old.

As adults, we usually have 32 teeth but they are not all the same shape and have different functions based on their shapes. Your teeth are kind of like the players on your favorite football team: each has plays their own position but they work as a team.

The Types of Teeth

  1. Incisors: The incisors are the eight teeth in the very front of your mouth. We have four on the bottom and four on top. Incisors are primarily used for biting off pieces of food.
  2. Canines: These four teeth are named after the fangs of a canine (dog) due to their sharp, pointed appearance. Our canines are located, two on top and two on the bottom, one on either side of our incisors. Canine teeth are used for ripping and tearing food.
  3. Bicuspids: Bicuspids are also known as premolars and are used for chewing and grinding our food. There  are four bicuspids in your mouth: two on the top and two on the bottom, one on either side of the canine teeth.
  4. Molars: The flat-topped molars, 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 located in an area where tooth decay is common due the fact that molars are used constantly but can be difficult to clean as thoroughly. Many people also grow third molars, also known as “wisdom teeth” due to their late arrival (late teens to early twenties). Four third molars can appear, one each side of your mouth, top and bottom. Wisdom teeth that do not emerge but are still present are said to be impacted and require a surgical procedure to remove. Wisdom teeth are also prone to tooth decay due to their location at the very rear of the mouth.

Now that you know you them a little better, you will be better able to communicate with Dr. Hess about your teeth when you may be having a problem. For example, if you have pain in the top front of your mouth when you bite down, you may have an issue with one of your top incisors. At the very least, hopefully you now appreciate the roles your teeth play in biting and chewing your  food. This is why it’s important to schedule regular cleanings and exams with Dr. Hess in Monroe NC, because It’s been said that a good team is only as strong as its weakest player. To schedule with Dr. Hess’s office call 704-240-5045 or request an appointment online.