Your teeth are incredibly important. Not only do they shape your beautiful smile, but they also help you chew and break down food and even help you pronounce words. But what are the different types of teeth and what are their particular functions?

Most adults have 32 permanent teeth in their mouth (28 if you’ve had your wisdom teeth removed). Children, whose mouths are smaller, have just 20 baby teeth. Let’s explore the four different types of teeth.


Adults have eight incisors: four in their upper jaw and four in their lower. The incisors are the front teeth that are the most visible of your teeth when you smile.

There are two different types of incisors: central incisors and lateral incisors. Your central incisors are the four most central teeth in your mouth (two on top and two on the bottom). The lateral incisors are the teeth directly next to your central incisors and that border your canines.

The main function of your incisors is to bite into your food. Since your incisors are the first teeth that will make contact with food, their job is to take initial bites and to cut food.

Your incisors are also prominent in the production of speech. This is why it’s difficult for children to pronounce words when they’re missing their front teeth!

Incisors are the first adult teeth to emerge, appearing between 6-8 years.


Adults have four total canines, two on the top and two on the bottom. Your canines are the four sharpest (fang-like) teeth in your mouth and they directly border your incisors.

The primary function of your canines is to tear food or to separate food that is tough to break apart. If you’re tearing off a piece of meat, for instance, your canines are the ones doing the work.

Though they’re sharp, canines are in danger of becoming more dull over time if you have a misaligned bite or if you grind your teeth at night. If either of these things apply to you, consider our Invisalign treatment to maintain the functionality of your canines!

The permanent versions of our canines typically appear between the ages of 9-12 years.


Adults have eight premolars in their mouth with four each in the upper and lower jaw. Premolars are a smaller version of molars, but they serve a similar function, which is to chew and grind down food into smaller bits that are safe for digestion.

The permanent versions of our molars appear around 10-11 years


Molars are the furthest back teeth in your mouth. Adults have 12 in total, with four of those being the wisdom teeth. Your molars are the strongest teeth in your jaw and their job, like premolars, is to break food down so you can safely digest it. If you’re eating something that’s particularly chewy or if you’re chewing gum, you’re relying on your molars to get the job done.

People often get their wisdom teeth removed when their jaw doesn’t have enough space for them – in other words, the wisdom teeth are “impacted.” This can cause a good deal of pain as well as damage to the gums and other teeth.

Permanent molars generally appear between 11-13 years while wisdom teeth often don’t appear until 17-20 years.

CNS Dental can take care of all of your oral health needs. Our services include everything from routine cleanings to cosmetic dentistry and even emergency dental procedures. Give us a call today with questions or to schedule your appointment.