Functions of teeth

Functions of the Teeth- What Do the 4 Teeth Types Do?

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Functions of the teeth: Why are teeth all different shapes and sizes?

Your teeth all have different jobs. The teeth all serve different functions and provide different benefits. They allow you to chew your food so you can easily digest it. There are four different types of teeth and each performs different functions. 

Four Types of Teeth and Their Functions

Functions of teeth

We have a total of four different types of teeth, and each tooth has further four different types of surfaces. The surfaces are chewing surface, adjacent surface, inner, and outer surface. Functions of the teeth are given below:

  1. Incisor

It is clear by its name that these are used to cut food and act like a pair of scissors. The incisor contains eight teeth (four at the bottom and four at the top) in the front center of your mouth. The first adult or permanent teeth that a child gets are the incisors. These teeth usually come when a child is in between the age of six and eight years.  These teeth majorly help to bite your food. These are flat teeth with the edge. Incisors are also known as anterior teeth. 

2. Canines

The teeth next to the incisors are called canines. These teeth are sharp and pointed and look like fangs. In the dentist’s language, such teeth are known as eyeteeth or cuspids. These teeth act like a fork and help to tear food. Canines are four teeth in total and considered to be the sharpest among all. Because of their sharpness, these teeth are used for tearing food into pieces. The adult canines are the permanent teeth, and children usually get them between the ages of 9 to 12 years. Lower canines generally come slightly later than the upper canines. 

3. Premolars

These are usually larger than the above two types (incisors and canines) but smaller than the molars. The function of premolars is to crush and grind food. These are different from your canines and incisor and offers a flat biting surface. Your mouth contains a total of eight premolars. These teeth usually appear when children are 10 to 12 years old. 

4. Molars

The largest teeth in your mouth are the molars. In functionality, they are similar to premolars. These teeth are used for crushing, tearing, and grinding food. Molars are larger in size than the premolars. Molars offer a large and flat biting surface, which makes them an ideal choice to tear food into pieces. Adults contain a total of 12 molars (six at the top and six at the bottom). Children contain a total of eight primary molars. 

  • Wisdom Teeth 

Wisdom teeth are not a separate type of teeth because there are only four types of teeth that are mentioned above. They are part of the molars. Wisdom teeth are also known as the third molars. They are located farthest back in the mouth. Wisdom teeth are difficult to clean. These teeth generally develop between the ages of 17 to 21 years. These teeth are located at the end corners of the jaw. There are generally four wisdom teeth; some people might not have all four. Wisdom teeth often remain unerupted in the bone and don’t make their appearance in the mouth. 

There can be other reasons as well behind the invisibility of wisdom teeth such as they can be trapped under the gums so can’t develop properly. If the wisdom teeth come in the wrong direction or halfway, then there is a risk of damage to the surrounding areas. See your dentist if any of these issues occur. If a person has a cavity in their wisdom tooth, the dentist might have to remove the wisdom teeth. 

Additional Functions of the Teeth

Types and functions of teeth

Most of the functions of teeth are described above, along with the teeth type. A few more functions are given below:

  • A primary function of the teeth is to break down and chewed the food. It will make it easy for the digestive system to digest the food. It will allow our body to absorb all the nutrients of the food easily. 
  • Teeth help with speech so you can pronounce words correctly
  • Teeth can offer you a good appearance. A nice smile brings good self confidence.
  • In early ages, children usually have baby teeth and the function of the baby teeth is to reserve spaces for the permanent teeth. With the passage of time, when the permanent teeth start to erupt, the baby teeth begin to fall out. It will create room and space for the permanent teeth. 

Take care of you teeth

To keep your teeth clean and strong, proper care is needed. Maintain good oral hygiene can help to keep your teeth healthy. Follow the below-given practices to keep your teeth and mouth clean and stay healthy. 

  • Use fluoride toothpaste.
  • Brush your teeth daily and twice a day.  (My recommended tootbrush- BURST toothbrush review)
  • Making a habit of flossing and do it at least once a day.  (My recommended floss- BURST floss)
  • Take a balanced diet and stay away from smoking. 
  • Minimize or limit the use of products that contain excessive sugar, such as drinks. 
  • To keep your teeth in good health, visit your dentist at least twice a year. How to find the right dentist.


Human teeth are generally of four kinds known as incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. Around the age of 3, children usually have completed getting their all 20 primary teeth. Around the age of 21, all people have their 32 permanent teeth along with their wisdom teeth as well. The functions of the teeth are to cut the food into pieces so that it can be easily chewed and digested. 

Each type of tooth is designed specifically for a particular purpose. Each type acts differently. The incisor acts like a scissor and tears food into pieces. Canines act like fork and are much sharper than the incisors. Premolars and molars act like a grinder. These are used to cut food into smaller and digestible pieces.

For more oral care tips and advice, visit Toothbrush Life.

Kelly Hancock, RDH

Kelly is a registered dental hygienist and oral health care provider. She is passionate about oral hygiene and encourages people to achieve optimal oral health. She has been working in the dental profession for 16 years and worked in many different roles in the dental industry. Kelly is currently a pediatric dental hygienist specializing in children’s dentistry. She is committed to helping others with their oral health care issues and helping others achieve a smile they love.

This article and all advice on this website, Toothbrush Life, is intended to help people gain knowledge about general oral health topics. No articles or advice on this website are intended to replace professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or qualified healthcare provider to help you with any questions you have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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