Tooth Types

There are four different tooth types in the mouth.

teeth_incisorsThe incisors at the front of the mouth have a sharp biting surface and are used for cutting or shearing food into small chewable pieces. There are eight incisors in both primary (baby) and permanent sets of teeth (dentitions).

teeth_caninesThe canines are situated at the 'corners' of the dental arches. They have a sharp, pointed biting surface. Their function is to grip and tear food. There are four canine teeth in both primary and permanent dentitions.

teeth_premolarsThe premolars, unlike the incisors and canines, have a flat biting surface. Their function is to tear and crush food. They are unique to the permanent dentition which has eight premolars.

teeth_molarsThe molars are the largest of the teeth. They have a large flat biting surface. The function of the molars is to chew, crush and grind food. There are eight molars in the primary dentition and twelve in the permanent dentition.




Upper and lower jaw

Key Points

  • There are 20 primary teeth.
  • Primary teeth are important for eating, appearance and speech as well as for guiding permanent teeth, which develop underneath them, into their correct positions.
  • Lower incisors are usually the first teeth to erupt at about 6 months. All 20 primary teeth are usually in the mouth between 2 and 2.5 years of age.
  • All 20 primary teeth fall out.
  • The primary molars, usually the last primary teeth to fall our, normally remain in the mouth up to about age 12 years.
  • There are 32 permanent teeth including 4 wisdom teeth
  • The first permanent teeth to erupt (from as early as age 5 years) are the 4 first permanent molars behind the last primary teeth. Parets should be particularly vigilant and look out for the arrival of these tooth to ensure that they are brushed.
  • Permanent incisors erupt between ages 6 and 9 years.