Human Dentition – The teeth that are located in the upper and lower jaws are collectively referred to as the human dentition. As humans, we have two sets of teeth during our life time.
Primary Dentition – this is the first set of teeth we get and are often referred to as baby teeth. There are 20 teeth in the primary dentition.
Permanent Dentition – is the second set of teeth we get and are often referred to as adult teeth. There are 32 teeth in the permanent dentition.
- Maxillae The upper jaw is known as the maxillae
- Maxillary Teeth Teeth located in the maxillae form an arch and are referred to as maxillary teeth
- Mandible The lower jaw is called the mandible
- Mandibular Teeth The teeth located in the mandible are referred to as mandibular teeth
There are several terms that help to define locations on and around the teeth and these terms are used often to refer to specific areas of the mouth when describing conditions there.
- Posterior towards the back of the mouth
- Anterior towards the front of the mouth
- Mesial towards the midline of the mouth
- Distal away from the midline of the mouth
- Buccal any area on the cheek side of the teeth
- Lingual any area on the tongue side of the teeth
- Facial any area on the cheek or lip side of the teeth
- Palatal any area on the tongue side of the maxillary teeth
- Occlusal any area on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth
- Incisal any area on the biting surfaces of the front teeth
In both the maxillary and mandibular arch there are similar teeth and only four types of teeth. This includes the incisors, the canines, the premolars and the molars. Each of these teeth is located in a different area of the mouth and serves different functions.
Incisors – the four front teeth in the mouth are known as incisors. They are located in both the maxillary and mandibular arches. The two center teeth are known ascentral incisors and the teeth on either side of them are known as lateral incisors. All of these teeth are responsible for cutting or biting food. They act like scissors.
Canines– The teeth located distal to the lateral incisors are known as canines. These teeth form the corners of the mouth. There are two canines in the maxillary arch and two canines in the mandibular arch. These teeth are responsible for tearing food particles when chewing.
Premolars – the teeth located distal to the canines are known as premolars. There are four premolars in each arch and two are located behind each canine in the arch. These teeth are smaller than the molars and are responsible for crushing food. These teeth are only present in the permanent dentition. The primary dentition only consists of incisors, canines and molars.
Molars – there are normally six molars in each arch; three on the left and three on the right side. They are referred to as first, second and third molars. Some people never develop third molars and these molars are called wisdom teeth. The role of the molars in chewing is to grind the food.
Tooth numbering system
In order to effectively and efficiently refer to teeth we often use numbering or lettering systems. There are several systems that are used throughout the world. The most widely used system in the world is the International Numbering System. This