How many teeth do we have?

Let's do dentistry 101! Most people naturally have 32 teeth but sometimes this varies! That is why dentists can only usually count to 32.

A dental student counting teeth

A dental student counting teeth

There are 4 categories of teeth. These are the incisors, canines, premolars and molars. They are categorised according to their function.

Incisors

The meaning from which this word is derived from means "cutting tooth". Incisors are your front teeth. They are shaped like a spade and thin at the tips, which allow you to cut your food. The closing action of the teeth is similar to scissors.

There are 4 in each arch of the mouth (8 in the entire mouth). The middle ones are called central incisors and the ones next door are the lateral incisors.

Canines

No, they're not dog shaped nor do we have dogs in our mouths. They're called canines because these sharp pointy teeth are very prominent in dogs. As a segue, dog gums and human gums are very similar, so much gum research is done on dogs!

These teeth are sharp and pointy to tear food. In combination with the incisors, these teeth allow us to bite off portions of our food so we can chew them inside out mouths. Dracula's canines are extra big so they can puncture the skin.

There are 2 in each arch.

Premolars

This is pretty boring. Just the teeth before the molars. But actually, much of our chewing is done with these teeth. They are sort of a mix between the canines and molars. These are the teeth most commonly removed for braces.

There are 4 in each arch.

Molars

Molars means grinding tooth. They do a lot of the grinding, like what we do in daily life, or trying to reach level 70 in Diablo III. So that we can swallow our food and not choke, the grinding pulverises your food to make it mushy and increase the surface area for digestive enzymes to work in your gut.

The wisdom teeth are the 3rd molars but they're pretty useless.

Including the wisdom teeth, there are 6 in each arch.

Anomalies

Not everyone has 32 teeth naturally! The most common anomaly is to have less than 4 wisdom teeth. This is great for those people who have less, because it means there is no chance of having issues with them.

Some people have extra teeth! You may have come across the fake photo of a mouth FULL of teeth (which looks very disturbing). Usually it's just 1 or 2 extras, sometimes it's an extra wisdom tooth and the other common on is an extra central incisor.