Types of Teeth and Their Function

By the time a person is old enough to vote, he or she usually has the 32 teeth that will hopefully last a lifetime. Today, our Chambersburg dentist Dr. Donnel McHenry, Jr. would like to educate you about tooth anatomy and the important role each type of tooth plays.


Let’s Get to the Root of all This

Before discussing the different types of teeth, it’s important to know the structures that are present in all teeth.

Enamel—This is the hard, protective outer layer. It is made almost entirely of calcium phosphate and is the strongest substance in the body.

Dentin—The layer under enamel, dentin is softer and is made up of living cells, which secrete a tough mineral substance

Pulp—This is the soft, inner structure of the tooth. The pulp contains nerves and blood vessels.

Cementum—This layer of connective tissue “cements” the roots of the teeth to the jawbone and gums.


Who Are You and What Do You Do?

We have four different types of teeth, plus our wisdom teeth (third molars). An adult typically has 32 teeth.

Incisors—These are the front eight teeth. We have four on top and four on bottom. The incisors are usually the first to erupt and are used to take bites of food.

Canines—We have four of these. They are usually the next teeth to erupt after the incisors and are used to tear food.

Premolars (bicuspids)—We have four premolars on each side of our mouths. These teeth have a larger surface area than incisors and canines and are used to chew and grind food.

Molars—We have the same number of molars as we do premolars. With even greater surface area than premolars, these teeth are also used for grinding and chewing food.

Wisdom teeth—The third molars are the last teeth to develop. They usually don’t erupt until after age 18, but some people never develop third molars. They are often removed to prevent overcrowding of existing teeth.

Schedule a Consultation

It is important to take good care of all of our teeth. That means brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing once a day, and scheduling dental cleanings and checkups every six months. To schedule an appointment with Dr. McHenry, contact our Chambersburg dental office by calling (717) 263-3316.  We serve patients from Fayetteville, Greencastle, Shippensburg, and the surrounding Chambersburg communities.