Learning About Teeth: Names & Functions

Learning About Teeth: Names & Functions

The sooner we can understand the function of teeth, teeth numbers, and names the sooner we’ll realize how important it is to look after our pearly whites on a regular basis. Once we’ve inherited our complete set of adult teeth, it’s our responsibility to learn about how to keep our teeth healthy and understand what is the function of teeth.

Anatomy of a Tooth

There is much more than meets the eye when it comes to our teeth, and dental professionals may need to probe beyond the surface to pinpoint the root of a dental issue.

As you may already know, teeth are the strongest part of the human body. Each tooth is constructed from dense minerals which make them exceptionally durable and long-lasting.

However, our teeth consist of other components which are only visible by looking at an X-ray.

Parts of a Tooth


The enamel is the outermost layer of each tooth. It is made up of tightly-bonded mineral deposits which protect us from erosion caused by certain foods and drinks, i.e. carbonated beverages, sugar, coffee, etc. Since our enamel cannot be regenerated, it must be preserved through proper and regular brushing techniques.


The crown is the top surface of the tooth which is visible to the naked eye. Our crowns are both protective and functional, helping to mash food for digestion. The way the crown is shaped dictates its tooth type. Some major dental procedures will require a crown replacement if it is necessary to drill through the enamel.


Dentin is the layer found beneath our enamel and surrounding our pulp. Our dentin houses millions of tiny tubes that travel to the core of each tooth to supply nutrients to the blood vessels contained in the pulp.


Our gumline is where our teeth meet our gums. The gumline must be cleaned through daily flossing and brushing. Food can get trapped in the fine ridges around the teeth, which can lead to plaque or gingivitis.


Our pulp is found at the center of each tooth. Pulp contains millions of nerve endings and blood vessels, which makes it highly sensitive. Localized tooth pain is likely caused by a cavity that has drilled through the enamel and dentin into the pulp.


The root makes up more than half of each tooth and is embedded underneath a thick layer of bone. Thanks to our roots, our teeth can remain securely in place without moving around our mouths while we eat or grind food.

Types of Teeth and Names of Human Teeth in our Mouth

After our primary teeth or “baby” teeth fall out, adults grow a second set of 32 permanent teeth. Our permanent teeth can be broken down into four categories:


Adult humans have 12 molars which are located at the back of the mouth (6 on the top and 6 on the bottom). Our molars are wider and flatter than our other teeth, which makes them ideal for the function of molars of breaking down foods before swallowing.

Molar Tooth Numbers

Top Teeth

#1, #2, #3, #14, #15, #16

Bottom Teeth

#17, #18, #19, #30, #31, #32


Also known as premolars, adults grow a total of 8 bicuspid teeth (4 on the top and 4 on the bottom). Bicuspids have a flat surface and function similarly to molars to help with mechanical digestion of food.

Bicuspid Tooth Numbers

Top Teeth

#4, #5, #12, #13

Bottom Teeth

#20, #21, #28, #29


Our 8 frontmost teeth (4 on the top and 4 on the bottom) are called incisors. These teeth are responsible for biting off chunks of food or cutting food to be further processed down by the molars and bicuspids.

Incisors Tooth Numbers

Top Teeth

#7, #8, #9, #10

Bottom Teeth

#23, #24, #25, #26


We Adults possess 4 canine teeth on either side of our incisor teeth (2 on the top and 2 on the bottom). These are much more sharp and precise than our other teeth. Function of Canines is to help us tear apart dense foods like meats and fibrous vegetables.

Tooth Numbers of Canines

Top Teeth

#6, #11

Bottom Teeth

#22, #27

5 Ways to Improve Dental Health

Certain practices like eating junk food or getting mouth piercings can actually damage the individual components of our teeth. Now that we know the fundamentals about our teeth, we can explore a number of different ways to improve our overall dental hygiene:

Adopt a whole foods lifestyle.

By limiting our consumption of sugar, fast food, and carbonated beverages, we are better able to maintain the integrity of our enamel. Strong enamels are vital in the prevention of cavities.

Remove oral piercings.

Metal jewelry around the lips, on the tongue, or anywhere close to our teeth can quickly lead to painful chips and breaks. While our teeth are impeccably strong, a chipped tooth can cause profuse bleeding and bacterial infection. For cosmetic reasons, a chipped tooth will require a crown replacement or veneer.

Exercise regularly.

Emerging studies show a link between obesity and periodontal disease, which affects our gums. As we combine regular exercise with a healthy eating regimen, it becomes much easier to prevent oral decay and disease.

Quit smoking.

Cigarette smoke is extremely corrosive to our enamels. Since it is a gaseous substance, cigarette smoke can perforate our gumline and corrupt our enamels much more easily than food or drink. People who quit smoking will notice an immediate improvement in their oral health.

Brush and floss.

This one goes without saying, but daily flossing and proper brushing is the best way to prevent oral decay and achieve a beautiful smile. Flossing is necessary to keep gingivitis at bay, while brushing must be performed at least twice daily as it removes potentially harmful plaque and bacteria.

How Can Ablantis Help?

Our experienced dental professionals here in Encinitas can tell you everything you need to know about your teeth. Ablantis Dental Practice understand that every mouth is different, and our goal is to provide individualized dental care to each of our patients. Ablantis offers a long list of dental services, including:

Send a text to (760) 790-4754, or call (760) 334-0128 to book an appointment. You’re one conversation closer to healthier teeth!

  1. “Study Links Obesity to Higher Risk for Periodontal Disease.” Oral Health and Dental Care, www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/basics/threats-to-dental-health/ada-05-study-links-obesity.
  2. “Enamel Erosion: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention.” Healthline, Healthline Media, www.healthline.com/health/enamel-erosion.
  3. “Human Teeth Dental Charts – Bradford Family Dentistry.” Bradford Family Dentistry www.bradfordfamilydentist.ca/human-teeth-dental-charts.