Jaw with teeth on white background, medicine concept. Vector illustration.

The Different Types of Teeth

You’ve probably noticed that your teeth aren’t all the same shape, but do you know the reason? Humans have four different types of teeth, and they each serve specific purposes, both in helping us chew and in giving us our beautiful smiles! The reason we need so many different types of teeth is that we are omnivores, which means we eat both plants and meat. We need teeth that can handle all of our favorite foods!

Children mouth with tooth numbering chart on blue background

Incisors

At the very front of the mouth, the top four and bottom four teeth are the incisors. The middle ones are central incisors, while the ones on the sides are lateral incisors. Incisors are built for slicing. When we take a bite out of an apple, for instance, our incisors shear off a tasty chunk of fruit, but they aren’t the teeth we actually chew with.

Canines

Next to the lateral incisors are our canines, which are the sharpest and longest teeth in our mouths. This enables them to grip and tear food, particularly meat. Unlike incisors, we only have four canines. Their long roots and their position at the “corners” of our dental arches also make them some of the most important teeth in our smiles, because they provide much of the shape. Another name for canine teeth is eyeteeth. That might seem weird, but it’s because these teeth are directly beneath our eyes!

Premolars

After the canines, we have our premolars. You can think of premolars as hybrids between canines and molars. They have sharp outer edges, but they also have flat chewing surfaces, which means they can help the canines with tearing food and the molars with grinding it up. We don’t have any premolars as children; our eight adult premolars are actually the teeth that replace our baby molars!

Molars

Finally, we have the molars. Molars are our biggest teeth, with multiple roots and large, flat chewing surfaces. We have eight baby molars and up to twelve adult molars, depending on whether or not we have and keep our wisdom teeth. Molars are the teeth that do most of the chewing, because those flat surfaces are perfect for grinding and crushing food until it’s ready to be swallowed.

What About Herbivores And Carnivores?

Our teeth are the way they are because we’re omnivores. Herbivores (plant-eaters) and carnivores (meat-eaters) have very different teeth. Herbivores typically have chisel-like incisors and large, flat premolars and molars for chewing plants, while their canines are small, if they have them at all. Carnivores tend to have much bigger canine teeth than we do, but their incisors are much smaller, and while they still have premolars and molars, they are often serrated like knives, built for shredding rather than grinding.

Biannual Visits

What do all four types of your teeth have in common? They need regular attention from a dentist! Keep bringing those incisors, canines, premolars, and molars to see us every six months so that we can make sure they’re all staying healthy. In the meantime, you can do your part by remembering to brush twice a day, floss daily, and cut back on sugary treats!

Test your knowledge and take our quiz!

Now that you’re an expert about the different types of teeth, test your knowledge with our Different Types of Teeth quiz!

baby milk bottle on pink background

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Sometimes, bedtime can be a real struggle, and a bottle might seem like an easy solution. Unfortunately, putting a baby to bed with a bottle of milk or juice does more harm than good, because the easier bedtime comes at the expense of the baby’s oral health. Keeping those baby teeth healthy is crucial so that the adult teeth will have a better chance of coming in straight.

 

What Is Bottle Rot?

Prolonged exposure to the sugars in milk or juice erodes the enamel on a baby or toddler’s teeth, particularly the central incisors. If you’ve ever heard of the phrase “baby bottle tooth decay” or the more sinister-sounding “bottle rot,” this is what it refers to, and it’s definitely something to avoid. It can also happen with sippy cups and even breastfeeding! If a baby’s gums and teeth aren’t properly cleaned after feeding, the sugary milk residue left in their mouth increases the risk of tooth decay.

 

Stopping Bottle Rot Before It Starts

Preventing bottle rot is simple: only use a bottle for the baby’s mealtimes, not to soothe them or help them fall asleep when they aren’t hungry. A pacifier will be much healthier for their teeth. After the baby reaches six months old, it’s safe to use a bottle of water, or a sippy cup of water for toddlers. Not only will it not cause bottle rot, but it won’t leave stains if it spills!

After every meal, make sure to clean out milk residue. Once baby teeth start appearing, it’s time to start brushing them. Use a soft toothbrush and a dab of toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice. Because babies can’t rinse and spit, make sure to use a non-fluoride toothpaste that is safe to swallow.

 

Treating Existing Bottle Rot

If your baby is already showing signs of tooth decay, come see us! We’ll be able to assess the extent of the decay, deal with any cavities, and come up with a plan to prevent future damage. One of the easiest steps you’ll be able to take at home is to limit their consumption of sugary drinks like juice and soda. You can also bring them to us for fluoride varnish treatments to give their teeth extra protection.

 

We Can Help

We know that parenting is full of unexpected twists and turns, but we’re happy to help you navigate the ones involved in infant and child dental care. Like you, we want your child to have a healthy smile for life! If you haven’t already brought them in for a checkup, schedule one today!

Thank you for being our valued patients!

Japanese girl brushing her teeth (3 years old)

Parent’s Guide to Baby Teeth

Dental health for kids is just as important as it is for adults. And it’s never too early to learn more about your kid’s teeth and teach them good dental habits! We’ve assembled some important questions parents ask us at Kid’s Dentistree and provided some straightforward answers to help you be the best parent you can be!

If you need more information about your child’s baby teeth, feel free to give any one of our offices a call!

Why are baby teeth important?

The primary, or “baby” teeth play a crucial role in dental development. They allow your child to chew properly, smile confidently, aid in speech development and save space for the permanent teeth, guiding them into the correct position.

When do the first teeth erupt?

Your child’s teeth actually start forming before birth. As early as 4 months, the baby teeth push through the gums – the lower front teeth are first, followed by the upper front teeth. Most babies’ first tooth comes in around 6 months old. The process can be uncomfortable (see teething) but should not make your baby sick.

Check out this useful tooth eruption chart to see when you should expect baby teeth to come in and when your children will likely lose them to make room for permanent teeth:

Kid's Dentistree Tooth Eruption Chart

How do I clean my baby’s teeth and gums?

It is important to take care of your child’s gums even before their child’s first tooth erupts. Wipe the gums down with an infant, soft toothbrush or soft cloth, and water.

How do I prevent baby bottle tooth decay?

Tooth decay in infants can be minimized or totally prevented by not allowing sleeping infants to breast or bottle feed. Infants that need a bottle to comfortably fall asleep should be given a water-filled bottle only.

How does baby bottle tooth decay start?

A bottle containing anything other than water and left in an infant’s mouth while sleeping can cause decay. This includes breast milk, regular milk, formula, fruit juice, unsweetened fruit juice, soda, or even watered down juices.

When does teething start?

Teething is the term commonly used to describe with your child’s teeth are erupting through the gum line. Normally, the first tooth erupts between ages 6 to 12 months. Gums may be sore, tender and sometimes irritable until the age of 3.

What are some common teething remedies?

If your baby is experiencing pain from teething, there are several home remedies to try. Applying something cold, like an ice cube, to help numb the gums is very effective and soothing for teething pain. Some parents even freeze weak chamomile tea in ice cube form to give their babies. The chamomile is naturally calming and relaxes nerves. For children over the age of 2, you can use clove essential oil but you’ll want to consult your dentist and family physician just to be safe.

When should my child first see a dentist?

“First visit by first birthday” sums it up. Your child should visit a pediatric dentist when the first tooth comes in, usually between six and twelve months of age.

How do I remove a loose tooth?

Please don’t use a doorknob and string. Encourage your child to gently wiggle a loose tooth after they have washed their hands. The tooth may be rotated or twisted with the fingers to remove it from the gum tissues.

What should I do if my child has a toothache?

Clean the area by brushing or rinsing with warm salt water. Use dental floss to remove any food or debris that may be present.

When should I start flossing my child’s teeth?

After your child’s second tooth comes in, floss between the teeth and around the base of the tooth where it meets the gum line.


Remember: If you have additional questions, please feel free to give any one of our offices a call!

Little child lying in fruit jelly showing out tongue and looking at camera.

How Much Sugar is in Your Kid’s Snacks?

Every parent wants their kids to be happy and healthy. For most of us, this means balancing what they want with what we know is best for them. But that’s easier said than done, especially when it comes to their diets. Because not only are a lot of kids picky eaters – sometimes saying “no” to a candy bar means a tantrum or argument.

Unfortunately new research suggests that the health risks of sugar might be worse than we thought. Sugar-rich diets increase the risk of childhood obesity, heart disease and diabetes, and too much sugar can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. That’s why the American Heart Association now recommends that children consume less than 25 grams (about 6 teaspoons) of added sugars per day.

Anyone who’s recently read the label on a can of soda knows that even drinking one 12-ounce can would exceed 25 grams. So what’s a parent to do? Of course we encourage replacing sugary snacks with healthy alternatives, but it’s important to know how much sugar is in the snacks kids love to eat. Even gummy vitamins contain 1-2 grams of sugar, so it’ll add up quickly!

 

How much sugar is in kid’s drinks?

Kool-Aid (8 ounces) = 4 grams

Capri Sun (1 pouch) = 18 grams

Orange Juice (8 ounces) = 21 grams

Apple Juice (8 ounces) = 26 grams

Sprite (12 ounces) = 31 grams

Chocolate Milk (12 ounces) = 33 grams

Coca-Cola (12 ounces) = 39 grams

Mountain Dew (12 ounces) = 46 grams

 

How much sugar is in kid’s snacks?

Cheerios (1 cup) = 1 gram

Ketchup (1 tablespoon) = 3.7 grams

Graham Cracker (1 rectangular piece) = 4.4 grams

Cheetos (small bag) = 5 grams

Chocolate Chip Cookies (4 cookies) = 9 grams

Nutri-Grain (1 bar) = 13 grams

Pop-Tarts (1 pastry) = 17 grams

 

Health Alternatives to Sugary Snacks

If you’re looking to cut down on your child’s sugar intake, we’ve heard a lot of parents secretly dilute the sodas they give their kids! But if you’ve got yourself a kid with a serious sweet tooth, try some of these alternatives and see what they think!

Cheese: Every 100 grams of cheese contains only about 2.3 grams of sugar. Not only that, but cheese is packed with protein and healthy fats that, when eaten in small amounts, are perfectly healthy to eat!

White Milk: 8 ounces of white milk does contain about 12 grams of sugar. If your child is obsessed with chocolate milk, try using less chocolate powder or syrup over time and getting them used to drinking whole milk. Like cheese, it contains healthy proteins and fats that an active person needs.

Peanut Butter: We’re not going to lie and say that peanut butter is the healthiest food out there. But it is sweet and it’s only got about 3 grams of sugar in a typical serving of 2 tablespoons. Try spreading some peanut butter on a celery stick, adding 2-3 raisins on top and telling your child it’s called ants on a log!

Fruit: There has been a lot of talk recently about sugar in fruit. And though it’s true that unhealthy sugars exist in dried fruit or fruit juice, whole fruit such as apples and bananas still contain a great amount of fiber and water – which means more hydrated kids with healthier digestive systems.

Goldfish: Apparently the song is true. Goldfish have an impressively low amount of sugar per serving – 0 grams for every 55 pieces! So if your kid loves to gobble up these cheesy fish-shaped crackers, it’s probably the most okay snack they can have every day.

 

Raising a child is hard work! And sometimes we’re just happy that they’re eating anything at all. But if you want your kid to grow up strong and healthy, limiting their sugar intake will increase their quality of life and even help them focus better in school.

So encourage healthy eating! And try to talk to them about the negative health effects of sugar, like gaining weight, losing their permanent teeth and feeling bad or sick when they are older.

Do you have any healthy or sugar-free snacks that your kids love? Share them with us on Facebook or Instagram!

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