What are the four different types of teeth and their function?


Most of us take our teeth for granted till something is wrong with our teeth. Not only do teeth assist us in chewing and digesting food, but they also play a major role in speaking, our aesthetic appearance, and overall health. By obtaining the required knowledge about your teeth, you are taking the significant step of giving them the proper attention.

Having healthy teeth and gums is essential for oral and overall health. Therefore, everyone should understand our four different types of teeth, their functionality, and how to take proper care of them. 

So, let's look at four different types of teeth and how important they are for us. But before that, it's important to know a little bit about the development of the tooth.

Humans possess two different sets of teeth that is primary or milk teeth and permanent teeth, which usually develop in various stages of our life. Even if the timing varies, the development of each set of those teeth is the same. Here are a few facts on how teeth develop:


  • Your tooth develops long before it is visible. For instance, a baby's first tooth starts appearing at six months, but its development starts during the second trimester of pregnancy.
  • The tooth crown is formed first, and the root continues developing even after the tooth eruption.
  • Primary teeth appear between ages 6-7 months and remain in place until age 6. Between 6 years and 14 years, primary teeth start falling, making way for permanent teeth.

Most adults possess 32 permanent teeth, divided into four different types.

  • Incisors
  • Canines 
  • Premolars
  • Molars

Let's know in detail about these four different kinds of teeth:

1. Incisors: 

The incisors are those teeth that grace your photos and greet your friend. The four middle teeth on the upper and lower jaws can be found in milk and permanent teeth. If you want an aesthetic and pleasing smile, you should take good care of your incisor.   With incisors, you take your first bite of food, and it also helps in supporting your lips.

There are two kinds of incisors – central incisors and lateral incisors

  • Central incisors are found in the front portion consisting of a single root in your jaws, assisting in pronouncing the consonants. The top central incisors have a shovel shape and are a protruding feature of your beautiful smile. The central incisors in your bottom part consist of a single root. Its main function is to help you chew your food while munching.


  • Lateral incisors are the small teeth that are present between your central incisors. Kids or adults usually have four lateral incisors, i.e. 2 teeth in the upper jaw and 2 teeth in the lower jaw in both milk teeth and as well as in when Permanent teeth erupt. Lateral incisors usually have a single root and are small and thin. Lateral incisors play a significant role in food digestion as they assist in dividing your food into small pieces when chewing.  

Also Read :- Dental flossing techniques and types. Does it cause gaps in your teeth?

2. Canines: 

The second type of teeth is canine. Adults have four canines. Two teeth in the teeth in the upper jaw and 2 teeth in the lower jaw in both milk teeth and as well as when Permanent teeth erupt.  They are present on each side of the top and bottom incisors. You can see your canines at the curve of your dental arch on both sides of the jaw. Canines are pointed on the tip. The upper peak of the canine is called the cusp. Canines are the strongest among the four types of teeth and possess high resistance to pressure caused while chewing. Canines are important for your teeth' functioning. 

Function: They help tear and cut the food and play a key role in providing an aesthetic smile, supporting the lips, and assisting your incisors and premolars. They help guide all of your teeth into one place when your top and low jaw come in contact.


3. Premolars

Premolars are present behind the canines. Adults consist of four premolars on the upper jaw and four in the lower jaw. Premolars consist of two cusps. Even flat on the top portion, they still help chewing food. 

Function: Premolars tear and grind the food into small pieces while chewing. They also assist in maintaining the height of your face.

Also Read :- Does Everyone Have Wisdom Teeth?

4. Molars

Next to premolars are your molars. Kids have 8 molars, 2 molars on each side of the upper jaw and 2 molars on each side of the lower jaw. They are wide, flat, and have strong teeth. Adults generally have 12 molars, that is, 3 molars on each side of the upper jaw and 3 molars on each side of the lower jaw, overall six on the top and six on the bottom. They cluster into four groups of three at the back of your mouth. The wisdom tooth, also called the third molar, erupts last, usually during young adulthood. If it erupts straight, then they do not require removal. But they do not grow as needed always, and when they do not erupt properly, it causes pain and infection. At this time, removal is inevitable.


Now when you have gained knowledge on four different types of teeth, you can easily know how your teeth function when you eat your favorite food. To take the best care of your teeth, you must visit your dentist when required. MyDentalPlan  offers you access to several dentists for dental checkups and treatments.




About the Author:

Suprithi Choudhary, M.Pharm (Pharmacology) Medical Content writer

Suprithi is a Pharma Professional working as a medical content writer and previously worked as a Research Scientist and Senior Research Analyst


  • C.M Academy
  • Attended the Panjab University- Chandigarh, Pharma post-graduate in Pharmacology

Special thanks to Dr Deepak Kulkarni, a dental surgeon with over 23 years of experience who proofread this blog. He graduated from the H.K.E's Dental College, Gulbarga, and has certifications in ACHS International Accreditation Education Plan; Advanced Rotary Endodontic - Restorative Continuum; and Leadership, Team Building and Customer Service Leadership from the Oscar Murphy International.



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