The Four Types of Human Teeth and How They Work

x-ray of teeth - types of human teeth

The Four Types of Human Teeth and How They Work

Our teeth are the first stop in the digestive process and we use them constantly every day. But did you know that different teeth have different functions? Every human has incisors, canines, premolars, and molars, and each tooth has a specific purpose. Let’s give our teeth a round of applause and learn some more facts about their unique characteristics. 

The Four Types of Teeth and Their Functions


The incisors are the front four teeth on the top and lower jaws. Narrow with a tapered end, the front two are called the central incisors, while the ones on either side are called the lateral incisors. Similar to scissors, the incisors help you cut and tear food into smaller bits for chewing.


Sometimes known as the “eye teeth” the four canines sit next to the lateral incisors on your upper and lower jaws. The pointiest of all your teeth, they are the ones that most resemble fangs. The canine teeth can help you tear apart meat or gnaw on crunchy vegetables


Next in line after the canines, the premolars are sort of a cross between canines and molars. They have sharp pointed areas, like canines, and are wide and strong like molars. There are two on each side, top and bottom, so in total, you have eight premolars. They help you tear food into smaller bits and grind it when you chew. 


The molars are the teeth all the way in the back of your mouth. There are three on each side, top and bottom, for a whopping total of twelve. Molars are wide, flat teeth that are used for grinding and mashing your food before you swallow. These teeth perform about 90% of your chewing, which means they get the most use of all. 

Each molar has its own name that goes in order of placement. The first molar is directly behind the premolars, the second molar is behind the first, and the third molar (if you have one) follows behind the rest. The third molars are more commonly known as the wisdom teeth, but not everybody gets them.

How Many Teeth Do Humans Have?

A typical adult has 32 teeth. Children have 20 teeth that erupt from the gums between the ages of 4 months and 6 years old. These “baby” teeth will eventually fall out and be replaced with the 32 permanent teeth. But every mouth is different! Some people have fewer teeth than normal, while others may have even more

The Best Dental Care for All Your Teeth

Every tooth is important, so proper dental care is a must. Your twice-yearly visits to the dentist can help you keep your teeth healthy and your mouth happy. At Hicks Dental Group in Prescott, we have the knowledge and experience needed to help you with all your oral care needs. From deep cleanings to whitening treatments to Invisalign, we can help you achieve the smile of your dreams. Contact us today to make an appointment.




Images used undercreative commons license – commercial use (12/6/23). Photo by Umanoide on Unsplash.