Like a team, your teeth work together to get the job of chewing done! However, chewing isn’t just one action; each tooth has its own role in making it happen. Teeth are all important in their own way, and deserve more thought than you probably give them! Here’s our lowdown of your ‘teeth team’ and what each type of tooth does in the mouth.
Incisors – ‘The Cutters’ – Total: 8
The first point of contact for your food are the incisors. There are four of them in the central position on both the top and bottom teeth sets. The incisors have a sharp, flat surface that cuts your food into bite-size pieces. If you close your eyes and imagine the first bite on an apple or piece of toast, the hand in your mind will naturally guide your imaginary food to your incisors.
Canines – ‘The Tearers’ – Total: 4
Perhaps the most famous teeth, canines are the carnivore’s favourite. If you’re a fan of steak or chicken legs, you’ll be making good use of your canines! With a total of four, they are the least numbered of your teeth. There are two on your top and bottom sets, and each one sits between your front and middle teeth. The canines have a sharp and pointed surface, which makes them great for gripping and tearing food.
Premolars – ‘The Crushers’– Total: 8
The teeth team’s middle man – premolars are perhaps the most underrated teeth in your mouth. They do a lot of the hard work when it comes to chewing, helping to both tear and crush your food. The shape of these eight teeth, which are flatter than incisors and canines but sharper than molars, makes them great for both of these actions.
Molars – ‘The Grinders’ – Total: 8
The molars are your biggest teeth and are the last point of chewing before you swallow. They sit right at the back of your mouth and finish the chewing off. If you’ve ever had indigestion, the chances are you haven’t made good enough use of your molars. They have a large, flat biting surface that is perfect for grinding down food, which helps your stomach to digest the things you eat.
Third Molars – ‘The Wisdoms’ – Total: 4 (?)
These are ‘maybe-molars’. Commonly known as your wisdom teeth, some people never get third molars. They are the last teeth to develop in your mouth, and usually come between the ages of 18 and 20. Much like their name suggests, third molars perform the same role as normal morals: helping to grind your food down. However, your wisdom teeth can sometimes cause overcrowding or never fully break through your gums (known as impacted teeth) and can be removed.
Chewing is no easy task, and it takes a lot of different teeth to make it happen. Cutting, tearing, crushing and grinding are all needed to chew properly, and you need all your teeth to do it! We hope that highlighting all the members of your teeth team, and what they do, will help you to be appreciate them a bit more by being more thorough with your dental routine.