What Are The 4 Types of Teeth and Their Function?

December 05, 2017

4 Types of Teeth and Their Function

Many of us take our teeth for granted – however, they play an important role. Not only helping us to chew and digest food better but also in speech and our overall health.

Development of Teeth:  There are two sets of teeth, primary or baby teeth and permanent adult teeth. These develop in stages.  According to studies, teeth will erupt in a symmetrical pattern, the top left and right molars will grow in at the same time. The development of teeth actually starts in the early second trimester of pregnancy. The crown of the tooth forms while the roots of the tooth continues to develop after it has developed. The first 20 primary teeth are in place at the ages of 2 ½ and 3 years of age and will remain in place until 6 years of age. At the age of 6 – 12 years, the primary teeth will then begin to fall out to make way for the permanent teeth. Most adults have 32 permanent teeth.

The Parts of the Tooth

A tooth is divided into two basic parts: the crown, white part of the tooth, the root, which you can’t see. The root extends below the gum line and helps anchor the tooth into the bone. There are four kinds of tissues:


Enamel will help protect the vital tissues inside the tooht. It is made up of hydroxyapatite, phosphorous, and calcium.


Underneath the enamel you find dentin, which is calcified and looks similar to bone. Dentin is not quite as hard as enamel, so it's at greater risk for decay should the enamel wear away.


This tissue covers the tooth root and helps anchor it into the bone. It's softer than enamel and dentin; the best way to protect this softer tissue from decay is by taking good care of your gums. Cementum has a light yellow color and is usually covered by the gums and bone. But with inadequate dental care, the gums may become diseased and shrink, exposing the cementum to harmful plaque and bacteria.


Pulp is found at the center and core of your tooth and contains the blood vessels, nerves, and other soft tissues that deliver nutrients and signals to your teeth.

Types of Teeth and What They Do

Teeth help you chew your food, making it easier to digest. Each type of tooth has a slightly different shape and performs a different job. Types of teeth include:


Incisors are the eight teeth in the front of your mouth (four on top and four on bottom). These are the teeth that you use to take bites of your food. Incisors are usually the first teeth to erupt — at around 6 months for your baby teeth, and between ages 6 and 8 for your adult set.


Your four canines (fangs) are the next type of teeth to develop. These are your sharpest teeth and are used for ripping and tearing food apart. Primary canines generally appear between 16 and 20 months, with the upper canines coming in just ahead of the lower canines. In permanent teeth, the order is reversed, with lower canines erupting around age 9 and the uppers arriving between ages 11 and 12.


Premolars are used for chewing and grinding food. Adults have four premolars on each side of their mouths — two on the upper and two on the lower jaw. There are no primary premolars; the first premolars appear around age 10, with the second premolars arriving about a year later. These take the places of the first and second primary molars.


Molars are also used for chewing and grinding food. They appear between 12 and 28 months. The permanent molars do not replace any primary teeth. The first permanent molars erupt at around age 6, while the second molars come in between ages 11 and 13.

Third molars 

The third molars are commonly known as wisdom teeth. These don't typically erupt until age 18 to 20. There are some people who never develop third molars at all. For those who do, these molars may cause crowding and need to be removed. If they don't fully erupt they are said to be impacted, and are commonly removed.


At Natural Horizons Wellness Centers we have a comprehensive Dental Center in Fairfax, VA. We take a natural approach to dentistry, using top of the line procedures and products to provide standard of care for your teeth without potentially harmful additives and chemicals. 

For a more complete and holistic approach, our team relies on the expertise of experts in many fields. It’s a way to get a more complete picture and to consider all factors that could affect your dental and general health.

To schedule an appointment at Natural Horizons Wellness Centers call 1-877-292-1571 or click here.


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