Our teeth come in different shapes and do different things. To help our patients better understand our treatments, we want them to know the basic aspects of these important, highly specialized bones.
People typically grow thirty-two adult teeth, with sixteen in each jaw. They are grouped by function. The front two pairs of teeth are called incisors. They are the most important teeth for speaking with, are used to tear food, and are the main focus of a lot of cosmetic care. On each side of the incisors is a canine tooth, which is also known as a cuspid or an eyetooth. These pointy teeth are used for piercing. Their place in the jaw makes them important for stabilizing the arch of each set of teeth, but the top ones often have difficulty erupting and need orthodontic correction.
On the sides of the mouth are two pairs of premolars and three pairs of molars. Premolars have one root each, molars in the lower jaw have two, and molars in the upper jaw have three. These teeth are used for chewing. Because the grooves in their grinding surfaces make them especially vulnerable to decay, they are often treated with sealants. The backmost molars are called wisdom teeth and are usually the last to erupt.