The Importance of Teeth

Your teeth are more than just a pretty smile. There are four main types of teeth: Incisors, Canines, Premolars, and Molars. Each type of tooth has specialized characteristics for the job that it does in the mouth. All the teeth working together also have an important role. They help chew and digest food; the smaller the food particles, the better the nutrients are absorbed. The shape of your mouth is determined by the way your lips rest on your teeth. Your teeth also help with speech and pronunciation. Have you ever heard someone speak with a lisp? This can be caused by the location of their teeth in relation to their tongue.

When Teeth Form

Did you know that your teeth begin to form before you are born? Development of teeth begins during the second trimester of pregnancy. Your first set of teeth goes by many names: deciduous teeth, milk teeth, primary teeth, or more commonly known as baby teeth. Your first tooth will erupt around six months of age. Tooth eruption happens in a symmetrical manner meaning the left and right side will grow at the same time. Children being to loose their baby teeth between the ages of 6-12.

What are the Roles of the Teeth?

  • Incisors come from a Latin word that means ‘cutter.’ They are four teeth on top, and the four teeth on bottom in the front of your mouth. They are used to take bites of food. They are generally the first teeth to erupt in a baby and they are replaced by a permanent set between the ages of 6-8.
  • Canine teeth resemble the fangs of animal teeth, thus how they got their name. They have also been known as Eye Teeth because of the location directly under the eye. The phrase, “Give one eyes teeth” stems from that title. It was thought that a person would be unable to see if their eye teeth were taken. These teeth are used for ripping and tearing apart food. They also have a semi-permanent and permanent set.
  • Premolars, also known as bicuspids, get their name from their shape. Bicuspids mean ‘two sharp points’. These teeth are used for chewing and grinding food. There is one upper set and one lower set. Both sets are permanent.
  • Molars come from the Latin word meaning millstone and are used for grinding. There are two upper sets and two lower sets. Both sets are semi-permanent and will be replaced by permanent sets.

Wisdom Teeth

Some people are lucky, or unlucky depending on how you look at it, to have a final set of molars. These are known as your wisdom teeth, named because of their appearance at a wiser age. Some people will develop 1-5 wisdom teeth, but they are often removed because of crowding or complications due to them being impacted. They were thought to have once been used to help chew tougher foods or replace teeth that had fallen out in our ancestors. Soft diets and evolution have eliminated these teeth from ever forming in many people.

Now that you know the roles of your teeth, it is easier to see why it is important to take care of them. Each of them has their own job and they work together to keep you happy and healthy. Be sure to brush and floss everyday and don’t forget to smile!

For more information about the health and role of teeth, or to make an appointment, contact the office of Dr. Larry D. Molenda, D.D.S., located in San Marcos, TX.