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Four Different Types of Teeth and Their Function

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four major types of teeth - dentist los angeles dr. Shervin LouieHealthy teeth are vital to oral health and play a major role in our ability to eat and speak, as well as our aesthetic appearance. Dr. Shervin Louie, renowned Los Angeles dentist, believes that everyone should know and understand the four main types of teeth, including their functionality and how to take care of them. This knowledge is essential to every person who takes a keen interest in maintaining their oral health. So, let us look at the four types of main teeth and what functions they perform.

Four Main Types Of Teeth

Humans have two sets of teeth containing four different types of teeth. These two sets are:

  • Primary
  • Permanent

Primary teeth are also called infant or baby teeth. These teeth erupt in infancy, then fall out one by one to make way for the permanent teeth. This process should be completed by age 12. Each set of teeth contains four distinct types of teeth. “These four types of teeth play a major role in your life,” states Dr. Shervin Louie, a dentist in Los Angeles. Let’s learn about them now.


Incisors are the eight teeth directly situated in the front and center of the mouth, including four teeth on top and four on bottom. These teeth are immensely important since we use them to take the first bite of food. They are meant for cutting, which is why their name is derived from the Latin word meaning “to cut.” These tend to be the first teeth to erupt: the primary set around six months of age, and the permanent set around age 6–8. Regular brushing keeps them healthy and strong.


There are four canine teeth in our mouth and these are the sharpest of all. These teeth first erupt between 11 and 20 months of age, and the permanent set should be in place around age 11-12. The function of the canine teeth is to tear food. Fun fact: human canines are underdeveloped compared to other mammals. Just look at your dog or cat’s strong canines for comparison!

Two canines are in the top row of teeth and two on bottom. Along with incisors, these teeth comprise the majority of visible teeth in your smile. So bad habits like smoking and chewing hard objects can severely damage them, and you may need to go to a dentist in Los Angeles for treatment. Therefore, brush and floss daily, and avoid bad habits to preserve these important teeth.

Different Types of Teeth


Premolars, also called bicuspids, are the next set of teeth behind the canines. They are used for chewing and grinding food into a softer consistency so it can more easily be swallowed and digested. Permanent premolars are usually in place by age 10-11.

Since these teeth are situated deeper into the mouth so that tooth decay is harder to spot, Dr. Shervin Louie, renowned dentist in Los Angeles, recommends thorough brushing and flossing to keep them clean of plaque, tartar, and bacterial infection.


The final tooth type is the molar. Our primary set of teeth includes four molars: two in the top row, two in the bottom. However, the permanent set, which appears at age 11–13, contains two more molars for a total of six. These extra molars are called the wisdom teeth. Not all people have them; their presence or absence is genetic. They erupt last, by age 20, and can cause many problems if your jaw doesn’t have room for them. Dentists usually recommend the removal of wisdom teeth to avoid jaw pain and crowding that pushes the other teeth out of place. It is theorized that wisdom teeth are an evolutionary remnant from when human jaws were larger and we needed more teeth to grind down coarse foods.

Humans are omnivores that can eat both meat and plant products. Therefore, in the human mouth, we see both sharper teeth that appear in carnivores like wolves and felines, plus flat teeth meant for grinding that appear in herbivores like cows. Both sets of teeth work together to effectively tear and grind up the food we consume.

Since teeth are so important to our appearance and ability to speak and chew, we recommend that you see a dentist at least every six months for a thorough checkup. Your dentist will perform a cleaning and examination, catching any potential problems early when they are easier to treat. Visit Dr. Shervin Louie, a well-established Larchmont dentist, for a checkup in the friendly and relaxing environment of his practice.

Types of Teeth