What do you know about your teeth? We use them to chew. They play a big part in shaping your mouth and consequently your entire face. They also make up your smile which is what we use to make first impressions on others. However, 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. Vernon Sheen in Annapolis, ‘which tooth is bothering you?’, many of us simply say, “that one!” like we’re pointing out an unknown suspect in a police lineup. But our teeth are on our team. They’re here to help. So let’s take a minute to get to know your roster.
We will have two sets of teeth in our lives: the primary teeth and the secondary teeth. The primary teeth- the ones most people know as the “baby teeth” because they begin growing in when we are only about six months old- are usually all in grown in by the time we reach three years of age. Our secondary teeth, also known as our “adult teeth”, begin coming in as the primary teeth begin to fall out. This usually happens between the ages of six and twelve years old and may have been accompanied by coins under your pillow for lost teeth depending on your family traditions.
The average adult person usually has 32 teeth but they are not all the same. Your teeth have different jobs based on their shapes. Just like the players on your favorite football team, each one has their own position but they work as a team to win the game.
The Types of Teeth
- Incisors: These are the eight teeth in the very front of your mouth. We have four incisors on the bottom and four on top. These are primarily used for biting off pieces of food.
- Canines: These sharp and pointed teeth are named after the fangs of a canine (dog) due to their resemblance to a dog’s teeth. We have four canines, two on top and two on the bottom, one on either side of our incisors, and we use the to rip and tear our food.
- Bicuspids: These teeth, also known as premolars, are used for chewing and grinding foods. We have four bicuspids, one on either side of the canine teeth.
- Molars: Molars are flat-topped teeth used for chewing and grinding that grow at the rear of your mouth, four on top and four on the bottom, two on each side. Molars are in an area that commonly experiences tooth decay due the fact that these teeth are used constantly but can be difficult to clean 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 will erupt, one each side, top and bottom. Wisdom teeth that fail to emerge are called impacted and require a surgical procedure to remove lest they become infected. Wisdom teeth are also prone to tooth decay due to their location at the very rear of the mouth.
Now that you know you teeth a little better, you will be better able to communicate with Dr. Sheen when you may be having a problem. For example, if you have pain in the very rear of your mouth when you chew, you may have an issue with one of your molars or even your wisdom teeth. At the very least, hopefully you now understand the roles your teeth play in chewing on your food and why it’s important to schedule regular cleanings and exams with Dr. Sheen in Annapolis MD. After all, everyone knows that a good team is only as strong as its weakest player. To schedule call (443) 482- 5202 or request an appointment online.