Different types of human teeth including incisors, canines, premolars, and molars

You’ve heard all about how important it is to take care of your teeth. But do you know why? Like, really why? It’s because the teeth are one of the most important parts of your body. Not only do they play a pivotal role in chewing and biting, but they also support your facial structure and are even important for proper speech.

Not all teeth are created equal. Mainly, there are four different types of teeth. Each type has its own unique purpose and function.

A typical adult mouth is made up of the following teeth: 8 incisors, 4 canines (or cuspids), 8 premolars (or bicuspids), and 12 molars (including 4 wisdom teeth).


All 8 of your incisors are located in the front of your mouth. There are four of them in your upper jaw, and four in your lower jaw.

Incisors are shaped like small chisels. They are thin and straight, with sharp edges that help you bite into food. Whenever you sink your teeth into something, like an apple or a sandwich, you are using your incisors.

In addition, incisors help you better articulate your words as you speak and help to bring shape and fullness to your lips.


Your four canine teeth are located next to your incisors. There are two of them at the top of your mouth, and two of them at the bottom of your mouth.

Canines have a sharp, pointy surface used to tear tough foods, especially meat. Many predators in the animal kingdom have very pronounced canines for that very purpose. In fact, the entire animal family of Canidae, which include dogs, foxes, wolves, and coyotes, are named from the same latin root word.

Canines also help to fill out the shape of your lips. They have the additional task of helping to guide all of your teeth into place when the upper and lower jaw come together.


Located next to your canines sit eight premolars. There are four premolars on top, and four on the bottom.

Premolars are much larger than canines and incisors. They have a flat surface with ridges and grooves used for grinding and crushing food into smaller pieces, making it easier to swallow. In the human mouth, they are particularly useful for chewing vegetables and grains.

Structurally, your premolars help maintain the height and structural integrity of your face. Typically, infants and children do not have premolars because these teeth do not develop until around 10 years of age.


The molars are the largest and strongest of all of your teeth. Usually, there are 12; six on top, and six on the bottom. Your main eight molars are sometimes divided into “6-year” and “12-year” molars, based on the typical age that they begin to develop.

Like the bicuspids, the main purpose of the molars are to grind up food. When you eat, your tongue naturally pushes food to the back of your mouth, where the food is then grinded to a pulp in order to easily swallow.

Your 12 molars usually include four wisdom teeth, which are the last set of teeth to come in. They usually develop between the ages of 17 and 25. No one truly knows why wisdom teeth arrive so late to the party, but they are believed to be “evolutionary relics” leftover from our ancestors who typically ate rougher diets consisting of twigs and sticks.

While it’s possible for wisdom teeth to come in without any real problem, many people do not have room in their mouths to accommodate them. When wisdom teeth are stuck under the gums with no room for growth, they are known as impacted, and you’ll likely need to have them removed to prevent any future issues.

At Cirocco Dental, we know everything there is to know about teeth, how they develop, and their purpose. If you have any questions about how to properly care for your teeth, don’t hesitate to contact us today!

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