Getting to Know Your Teeth

How well do you really know your teeth? Your teeth are so important in your life: Helping you eat, shaping your face and letting you smile that you use to make a good impression on others. But many people don’t know which tooth is an incisor and which is a bicuspid.

Take a moment to learn about the four different types of teeth there are with Dr. Richard W. Van Gurp of Van Gurp Dentistry in Charlotte, NC.

Primary vs. Secondary Teeth

Human beings grow two sets of teeth in our lifetime: the primary teeth and the secondary teeth. The primary teeth are known to most as the “baby teeth” because they start coming in when we are only about six months old and are usually all in place by the time we are about three years of age.

The secondary teeth, also known as the “adult teeth”, begin to appear as the primary teeth begin to fall out. This process of losing baby and growing in new teeth usually takes place between the ages of six and twelve years old. 

The average adult person normally has 32 secondary teeth once they are all in but they’re not all identical. Your teeth all have different jobs based on their shapes and where they are located. You could equate them to the players on your local baseball team: each has their own position in the field with its own duties but they work as a team. 

The Types of Teeth

Incisors: Located in the very front of your mouth, there are four incisors on the bottom and four on top. Incisors are primarily used for biting off pieces of food.

Canines: Named after the fangs of a canine (dog) because of their sharp, pointed appearance, canines are located on either side of our incisors, two on top and two on the bottom. We use these teeth are used to rip and tear food.

Bicuspids: Also known as premolars, bicuspids are used for chewing and grinding foods and are situated on either side of the canines.  We have four bicuspids, two on the top and two on the bottom. 

Molars: Our large flat-topped molars are also used for chewing and grinding. These teeth grow at the rear of your mouth, four on top and four on the bottom, two on each side, but commonly experience tooth decay. This is most likely because they are constantly  used but can be difficult to clean properly. Many people also grow “wisdom teeth” — named as such due to their late arrival (late teens to early twenties) not because they impart any actual intelligence.

Wisdom teeth are a third molar that can erupt, one each side, top and bottom. Wisdom teeth that fail to emerge are diagnosed as impacted and can cause pain. This will usually require a surgical procedure to alleviate as the impacted wisdom teeth will need to be removed. These are also susceptible to tooth decay due to their location at the very rear of the mouth. 

Comprehensive Dental Care in Charlotte, NC

Now that you know you teeth a little better, you will be better able to communicate with Dr. Van Gurp when you may be having a problem. For example, if you have pain in the rear of your mouth when you are biting off a piece of food, you may be having trouble with one of your incisors. Perhaps now you understand better the roles your teeth play in chewing on your food. After all, coaches around the world will tell you that a good team is only as strong as its’ weakest player.  For this reason it’s important to schedule regular cleanings and exams with Dr. Van Gurp in Charlotte, NC. To schedule with Van Gurp Dentistry call (704) 209-9606 or request an appointment online.