Meet your teeth

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 meet your teeth. 

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.

Take a look at those 32 permanent teeth from a closer angle.

Incisors - 8 total

The middle teeth on both the upper and lower jaws

Incisors can be divided into central incisors located directly in the center and lateral incisors located to the left and right.

Besides stealing the show as the stars of your smile, incisors serve a crucial role in biting into food. Their narrow edges make them ideal for cutting into food to detach smaller, chewable pieces.

Canines - 4 total

The pointed teeth located outside the incisors (also called cuspids)

Not surprisingly (considering the name), canines are closely linked to carnivorous predators. These teeth are much sharper than other teeth, which allows them to easily rip and tear apart food.

Premolars - 8 total

The teeth located between the molars and canines

These teeth have only two points on the surface, while molars have four. 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 - 8 total

The teeth located near the back of the mouth

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

Wisdom teeth - 4 total

A third pair of molars in the very back of the mouth (also called third molars)

Wisdom teeth typically appear around age 17 but are usually not necessary for efficient chewing or healthy digestion. Sometimes they’re surgically removed if they’re causing problems or if there’s not enough room for them to fully erupt.