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The Different Types of Teeth in Your Mouth

Discover the hidden purpose of your teeth.

Your mouth is designed to eat

Have you ever thought about why your teeth are shaped differently? It turns out the shapes serve a crucial role in how we eat. Chances are you probably don't give eating much thought since it's something that's so ingrained. But discovering the purpose of each tooth might give you a newfound appreciation for how your mouth operates.

What are the different types of teeth?

An adult mouth has 32 teeth, which mostly grow by age 13. There are four different types:

  • Incisors
  • Canines
  • Premolars
  • Molars, including wisdom teeth

Each tooth has a purpose

The different shapes of your teeth are designed to chew up food as it moves farther into your mouth.

Incisors are the four flat teeth at the front of your mouth. They help you take that first bite into your food, cutting it into smaller pieces that make it easier for you to chew. Being the front most teeth, incisors play a huge role in our smile and helping us talk.

Canines, also known as cuspids, are the four sharp teeth next to the incisors. These are our longest teeth, and they help us rip and tear food, like meat.

Premolars, or bicuspids, are the eight teeth that come after your canines. Wide and rigid, think of them like a hybrid between your canines and molars. Premolars help tear and grind food.

Molars are the eight large rigid teeth in the back of the mouth after the premolars. As you might guess, their job is to grind up food so it's safe for you to swallow.

Your molars include the four wisdom teeth in the corners of your mouth. They come in around age 18 and usually are surgically removed because they can crowd your mouth. Wisdom teeth can also be impacted, meaning they can't grow out of your gums.

Take care of your teeth

The different shapes of your teeth mean you should be sure to brush and floss each one thoroughly to remove any food and plaque. Brush, floss and use mouthwash regularly to keep them healthy, but dental exams are still strongly recommended. You can find an in-network dentist in your neighborhood by using our Find a Provider tool.