Meet your teeth

Woman smiling with braces Woman smiling with braces Woman smiling with braces

You use them all day long — for everything from meal time to picture time — but how well do you really know them? Take a time-out to get to know the different types of teeth you have.

When teeth grow in, they do so symmetrically, meaning that teeth on both the left and right sides appear at about the same time.

Children usually begin to lose their teeth around age 6 or 7 to provide room for adult teeth. Baby teeth fall out in roughly the same order they appear.

women drinking hot cocoa women drinking hot cocoa women drinking hot cocoa

women drinking hot cocoa women drinking hot cocoa women drinking hot cocoa

Wisdom teeth appear during the late teens and early 20s, adding up to a total of 32 teeth by around age 21.

What are those 32 teeth? Let's take a closer look.

X-ray showing teeth X-ray showing teeth X-ray showing teeth

Incisors

How many do you have?

Eight.

Which are they?

The middle teeth on both the upper and lower jaws. You have two kinds: central incisors are straight in the middle of your mouth, and lateral incisors are to the left and right.

What are they for?

Besides stealing the show in your smile, incisors help you bite into food. Their narrow edges make them ideal for cutting into food to detach smaller, chewable pieces.

Canines (or cuspids)

How many do you have?

Four.

Which are they?

The pointed teeth located outside the incisors.

What are they for?

These teeth are much sharper than other teeth, which allows them to easily rip and tear apart food. Not surprisingly, you can find canine teeth in your dog's mouth too.

Premolars (or bicuspids)

How many do you have?

Eight.

Which are they?

The teeth located between the molars and canines. These teeth have only two points on the surface, while molars have four.

What are they for?

Like molars, premolars are flat and are responsible for grinding up food for swallowing. They also help move food from the front of the mouth to the back for chewing.

Molars

How many do you have?

Eight.

Which are they?

The teeth located near the back of the mouth.

What are they for?

Molars are used to mash up food so it can easily be swallowed and digested. They have a flat base with a larger surface area to make it easier to grind food.

Wisdom teeth (or third molars)

How many do you have?

Four — unless you've had them removed.

Which are they?

Wisdom teeth are at the very back of the mouth. They typically appear around age 17. You might have them removed if they’re causing problems or don't have enough room to fully erupt.

What are they for?

Wisdom teeth are another set of molars, for grinding up food.

Dentist examining a patient's teeth in the dentist
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