Know Your Teeth

How well do you know your teethOur teeth are an essential part of our bodies but how well do you know your teeth? Your teeth help you chew. They play an important part in forming the shape of your mouth and consequently your entire face. They form your smile which is what your use to make first impressions on others.

Yet many people don’t know which tooth is an incisor and which is a molar. When you have a toothache and your dentist asks you which tooth hurts, you might point and say, “That one!” Dr. V. Lynn Morgan in Severna Park, MD is here to help you understand your teeth.

We humans have two distinct sets of teeth in our lifetime: the primary teeth and the secondary teeth. The primary teeth are also called the “baby teeth” because they begin coming in when we are only about six months old and are usually all in place by the time we reach three years of age. The secondary teeth, more commonly known as the “adult teeth”, begin growing in as you lose the corresponding primary teeth. This process usually begins at around six years of age and is usually done by the time we’re twelve or thirteen years old.

The average adult person usually has 32 secondary teeth but they are not all the same. Your teeth have different jobs based on their shapes and locations. You could look at them like the players on your favorite football team: each plays their own position but they work as a team to score points.  

The Types of Teeth

  1. Incisors: These eight teeth are in the very front of your mouth and are primarily used for biting off pieces of food. We have four incisors on the bottom and four on top.
  2. Canines: These sharp, pointed teeth are named after the fangs of a canine (dog) due to their appearance. We have four canines, two on top and two on the bottom, one on either side of our incisors. Canines are used to rip and tear food.
  3. Bicuspids: Also known as premolars, your bicuspids are used for chewing and grinding foods. Adults four bicuspids, two on the top and two on the bottom, one on either side of the canine teeth.
  4. Molars: These flat-topped teeth are also used for chewing and grinding and grow at rear of your mouth, four on top and four on the bottom, two on each side. Your molars are located in an area that commonly experiences tooth decay due the fact that they it can be difficult to clean teeth as thoroughly in the back of your mouth. Many people also grow third molars.  These are more commonly called “wisdom teeth” due to their relatively late arrival (late teens to early twenties). Four third molars will erupt, one each side, top and bottom. Wisdom teeth that do not emerge are diagnosed impacted and require a surgical procedure to remove. Wisdom teeth are also prone to tooth decay due to their location at the very rear of the mouth.

Now that you know your pearly whites a little better, you will be better able to communicate with Dr. Morgan when you may be having a problem with them. For example, if you have pain in the upper rear left of your mouth when you chew, you may have an issue with one of your top left molars.

At the very least, maybe you can now appreciate the different roles your teeth play in chewing on your food and why it’s vital to keep them all healthy. After all, it’s a well known belief that a good team is only as strong as its’ weakest player. Be sure to schedule regular cleanings and exams with Dr. Morgan in Severna Park MD to keep your team strong. To schedule call 410.415.9015 or request an appointment online.