Exploring the Different Types of Teeth

The different types of teeth are the hardest structures in the body. Each set has a unique shape and function, and they work together to break down foods before they are swallowed. Teeth also perform an essential role when it comes to speech. They work in conjunction with the tongue to help people pronounce certain words. The letter "T" is a prime example.

The two main types of teeth

Humans have two major types of teeth. Both start developing before birth, and both serve critical functions.

1. Primary teeth

Primary teeth are also known as milk, temporary or baby teeth. The buds of primary teeth begin to form shortly after conception, and the first set of primary teeth start to appear about six months after birth.

There are 20 primary teeth: 2 canines, 4 incisors and 4 molars on each arch. Most primary teeth should be fully erupted by the time a child reaches the age of three. By the time a child reaches the age of seven all 20 primary teeth should have emerged.

Primary teeth serve a critical function besides being used to chew and speak. These teeth also serve as placeholders for the permanent teeth that will eventually emerge.

2. Permanent teeth

The second teeth that replace primary teeth are called permanent teeth. They are 32 of them in total, and they begin to appear around the age of seven. The first molars are typically the first set of permanent teeth to emerge.

These come in behind all the baby teeth, so there are no obstructions in their way. The baby molars are eventually replaced with permanent premolars.

By the time a child reaches the teenage years, 28 of the 32 permanent teeth should have emerged. The last set of permanent teeth are called wisdom teeth, and they start to appear around the ages of 17 to 25.

The primary functions of teeth

1. Chewing

Breaking down foods into smaller pieces is the primary function of the teeth. It is the first stage of digestion since foods need to be broken down into smaller pieces before it reaches the stomach. When a person is missing teeth, digestion becomes more difficult.

Each tooth has a specific role when it comes to breaking down food. Some are used for tearing, while others are used for shearing and grinding down food.

2. Aesthetics

Teeth are one of the most visible parts of a person's appearance. People tend to feel self-conscious about their appearance when their teeth are in subpar condition. The people a person interacts with also tend to make generalizations based on the appearance of a person's teeth.

3. Pronunciation

Teeth are also used to pronounce certain consonants. Speech can be quite tricky when teeth are missing – especially the upper front teeth.

More questions? Contact our office today! 

Want to learn more about the different types of teeth and how to keep them healthy? Schedule a consultation with one of our dentists today.

Request a dental appointment here: or call John M. Chaves, DDS at (818) 999-2707 for an appointment in our Woodland Hills dental office.

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