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What are teeth for?

Child with adult tooth growingWe use our teeth to cut up food into smaller pieces that we can swallow. There are four main kinds of teeth, each with a different job. The sharp-edged, chisel-like incisors at the front of the mouth bite off pieces of food. The taller, pointed canines tear the food up. The wide premolars and molars at the back of the mouth squeeze and crush the food.

Teeth in upper and lower jaws

Kinds of teeth

By the age of three, children have 20 milk (or deciduous) teeth: four incisors, two canines and four molars in each jaw. Between 6 and 12 years, these teeth are shed and replaced by adult teeth. An adult person has 32 teeth. There are four incisors, two canines, four premolars and six molars in each jaw. The rearmost molars are called wisdom teeth.

Your first teeth are 20 milk teeth. These are gradually replaced by a set of 32 permanent teeth from about the age of 6.

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