Canine Teeth, also known as cuspids or eye teeth, are the sharp teeth located at each corner of your mouth. Canine teeth are important for tearing and chewing food, and they also help protect your other teeth from wear and tear. In this article, we will provide a breakdown of your 4 canines – what they are, where they’re located, and what their purpose is. We’ll also provide information on how to care for them properly!
What are Canine Teeth?
Canine teeth are sharp, pointed teeth located at each corner of your mouth, between your incisors and premolars (bicuspids). They get their unique name for their fang-like shape which is similar to most canines, aka dogs.
Humans have four canines – two on the top (maxillary canines) and two on the bottom (mandibular canines). If you count back from your central incisors (the very center tooth), the canine teeth are the third teeth in the mouth. In the picture above the canines are highlighted in blue.
All teeth are given teeth numbers for identification purposes. For the purposes of this article the universal teeth numbering system, the American teeth numbering system, will be used. There is also the World Dental Federation numbering system. In adults, the top canines are teeth number 6 (right tooth) and 11 (left tooth). The bottom canines are teeth number 22 (left tooth) and 27 (right tooth). In children, the top canines are teeth E (right tooth) and F (left tooth) and the bottom canines are teeth M (left tooth) and R (right tooth).
What are Canine Teeth Used For?
Canine teeth are important for firmly holding food in the mouth and tearing it apart, as well as self-defence in some animals. In addition, their location in your mouth and long shape help guide your bite into the proper position.
In humans, canine teeth are not as long and sharp as they are in other animals, but they still play an important role in oral health.
When do Canine Teeth Come Into the Mouth?
In dental terminology, a tooth coming into the mouth is called “erupting.” The age at which canine teeth typically erupt is dependent on if they are primary (baby) or adult teeth as well as if they are mandibular (lower) or maxillary (upper) teeth.
Adult canine teeth typically erupt at the ages of 11-12, for upper teeth, and 9-10, for lower teeth.
Baby canine teeth typically erupt at 16-22 months of age, for the upper teeth, and 17-23 months of age, for lower teeth.
Anatomy of Canines
Like all teeth, canines have two main parts: the crown and the root.
- Crown: The crown is the part of the tooth that is visible in the mouth. As discussed previously, canines have a sharp, pointy shape which helps them to tear food. This is known as a cusp.
- Root: The root is the part of the tooth that is embedded in the jawbone. Canines typically have one root, while molars have two or three roots. These sink deep into the bones, causing noticeable bumps on the surface of your gums. This makes them larger and stronger than incisors, your front teeth.
Each tooth is composed of three main parts: enamel, dentin, and pulp.
- Enamel: The enamel is the hardest part of the tooth and is what gives the tooth its white color. It is also the hardest substance in the human body. Its function is to protect the tooth from chewing and biting forces.
- Dentin: Dentin is a hard, yellowish material that makes up the majority of the tooth. Its function is to support the enamel and protect the pulp from bacteria.
- Pulp: The pulp is the innermost part of the tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves. Its function is to provide nutrients and sensation to the tooth.
How to Keep Your Teeth Clean
Your canines, just like every other tooth, are vital to proper oral health and it is important to take care of them! Not cleaning them properly can lead to cavities, gum disease, and eventually tooth loss.
Here are a few tips on how to clean your canine teeth:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste: Flouride is a mineral that helps to remineralize your teeth and prevent cavities. Be sure to brush all teeth surfaces, including near the gum line, and pay attention to your back teeth. The most frequently missed locations.
- Floss ATLEAST every day (But recommended twice a day): Flossing removes plaque and germs from between your teeth, helping to prevent cavities between teeth. Be sure to hug the curve of each tooth as you floss and go slightly under the gumline.
- Visit the dentist every six months: Regular dental visits are important in order to catch any problems early and to keep your teeth healthy! They can also provide cleanings that are more thorough than what you can do at home.
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No two mouths are the same, and each oral situation is unique. As such, it isn’t possible to give comprehensive advice or diagnose oral conditions based on articles alone. The best way to ensure you’re getting the best dental care possible is to visit a dentist in person for an examination and consultation.