Incisors, the set of four teeth situated on the front row of the upper and lower jaws, are positioned between the cuspids. Everyone normally has a total of eight incisors. Typically, the incisors have a single root, while molars usually have two to three roots.
The six teeth situated at the front row on the lower and upper jaw that contain the incisors and cuspids are jointly called the anterior teeth. The teeth at the back of the jaw are called the posterior teeth.
Types of incisors
Incisors have two types: At the front and center of the jaw (called the mesial position), are the central incisors. The maxillary central (top and center) incisors are the largest and are the most visible when people smile.
Lateral incisors are the two teeth positioned adjacently to each side of the central incisors. The positioning is called distal position, signifying the distance from the jaw center.
Incisors are the first set of teeth to erupt in babies and the first teeth to develop in adults. The first two front teeth, called central incisors, form in babies as deciduous teeth (or baby teeth) when they are between eight to 12 months of age. They are substituted with permanent teeth when the child reaches the age of seven or eight.
Lateral incisors occur close to the central incisors. The permanent lateral incisors show up between ages seven or eight.
The importance of the front teeth
The main function of the front set of teeth is to cut and tear food. The name "incisors" itself is a derivation of the Latin word, "incidere", which means “to cut.” Because of their position, impairments and defects are quickly noticeable and may alter the aesthetic appearance when smiling, talking and eating.
In a typical bite, every maxillary incisor (upper tooth) will somewhat overlap the parallel mandibular incisor below. However, a misaligned jaw or crooked teeth can affect the bite negatively. This common issue is called malocclusion and may cause an overbite, underbite or crossbite.
Orthodontic care is effective for severe cases of crooked incisors and malocclusion, and veneers are effective in less serious situations. The most common orthodontic care for correcting malocclusion is dental braces.
Caring for the front teeth
To keep your teeth functional and to maintain a pleasant appearance, you need to practice good dental hygiene. Since they are positioned in the anterior side of the jaw and the most visible, your front teeth have a cosmetic and a lifestyle impact.
You need to brush your teeth at least twice daily to protect your incisors. Ideally, you should brush after every meal, but you should wait for about 30 minutes after eating before brushing to enable your enamel to harden — the enamel may soften slightly when eating and brushing may degrade that layer if you brush too soon.
Flossing at least once daily is important to curb the bacteria and plaque that lurk between teeth in areas inaccessible to the toothbrush. Bacterial plaque is responsible for tooth decay and gum disease. If plaque lingers too long, it could harden into tartar, which can only be cleaned by a dentist.
The bottom line
Regular dental checkups for deep cleaning and polishing will ensure your front teeth stay functional and appealing throughout your lifetime.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with Rocky View Dental Care, request an appointment in our Littleton office here: http://rockyviewdentalcare.com. Or call us at (303) 219-2053.
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