Purposes of Each Type of Tooth

Your teeth enable you to chew, bite, speak, and complete many oral functions. They feature hard, durable enamel to withstand wear and tear, strong dentin for support, and blood vessels within the pulp cavity to connect to the rest of the body and stay healthy.

But when you smile, you will notice that each of your teeth looks a little different. This is because you have several kinds of teeth within your mouth that serve varying purposes.

You can promote healthy oral habits when you understand what each of these teeth contributes to your smile. Check out the four types of teeth you have in your smile and how they affect oral function when you read on.

Purposes of Each Type of Tooth


The incisors are the four front teeth on both the top and bottom arches of the teeth. They are the most visible teeth, and many people think of incisors when they smile. Because of their exposure at the front of the mouth, they are often subject to forming stains on the surface.

Dark foods and beverages like coffee and red wine can transfer dark-colored particles that absorb into the enamel. You may need teeth-whitening treatment to lift and dissolve these stains and make your smile brighter.

They feature a flat shape that thins closer to the cusp end of the tooth. This helps the incisors with their primary function: to aid in the biting and tearing of food. Their position at the front of the mouth also supports the lips and helps the way you speak.


Canines refer to the four sharp, pointed teeth that bracket each side of the incisors on the upper and lower sets of teeth. They function to improve your ability to tear into the foods that you eat, especially when you bite into tougher meat and other textures.

The canines also assist in keeping your bite aligned. They are longer than the rest of your teeth, so they guide the bite as you open and close your mouth.

If canines or other teeth in your smile are crooked, you could see some problems with your dental health. Clear braces or other cosmetic treatments from your dentist can help straighten your smile.


Dental patients have two premolars beside each of the canines, eight total in all four quadrants of your mouth. Also known as bicuspids, the premolars are a strong type of tooth that look like a combination of canines and molars. This means they have a strong support that can assist in both biting and chewing food.

These transitional teeth can endure a high amount of pressure because they can both tear into and grind foods. They also play a role in maintaining your face shape. So make sure you take care of these teeth despite their confirmed durability.


Molars refer to the teeth closest to the back of the mouth. They have a larger circumference than other types of teeth and have a bumpy, flat cusp. This allows them to grind food at maximum efficiency as you chew.

You have two molars in each quadrant of the mouth, the left and right sides of the upper and lower jaw. But some people may have a third set of molars known as wisdom teeth. If they become impacted when growing into place, you might need an extraction procedure to remove them before they hurt your smile.