The primary functions of the human teeth are obtaining, chewing and breaking down food. Teeth are also responsible for protecting the oral cavity and assisting in speech. They are composed of different parts that have unique functions in the chewing process.
The permanent dentition begins at the midline, and it consists of incisors, canines, premolars and molars. The primary dentition has the same components, but it doesn’t have premolars. The eight front teeth are called incisors, and they allow a person to bite and cut food. Incisors slice food with their sharp ends. The part of the teeth that people use to tear food are known as canines, which are the sharpest type of teeth. Canines are also capable of grasping and retaining food.
Premolars are located at the back of the canines, and they are designed to hold, chew and grind food. Humans have two premolars on the upper section of the mouth and another two on the lower jaw. Primary molars, also called deciduous molars, assist in chewing and crushing food. The first permanent premolars replace primary molars when a person is about 6 years old, whereas the second permanent premolars appear when a person is between 11 and 13 years old. Third molars, or wisdom teeth, typically grow when a person reaches 18 to 20 years of age.