How Well Do You Know Your Smile?

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Our smile is usually the first thing others notice about us, but how well do you know what makes up your smile? In addition to helping us chew, teeth play a large part in the shape of your mouth and help us speak properly. Yet many people don’t know the difference between a bicuspid and an incisor!

Take a moment to learn about your smile with Ridgetop Dental Group in Reston, VA.

Get to Know Your Teeth: Primary vs. Secondary

Humans develop two sets of teeth, and they are called primary and secondary teeth. The primary teeth are commonly called “baby teeth,” and they are replaced over time by our secondary, or “adult” teeth.

The average adult has 32 teeth, but they are not all the same. Your teeth all have different jobs, which you can identify based on their shapes and size. Just like players on your favorite football team, each plays their own position, but they work as a team to accomplish a goal.  

The Types of Teeth

There are four types of teeth that all work together to shape your smile and help you chew and speak.


The eight teeth in the front of your mouth — four on top, four on the bottom — are called the incisors. These are used for biting off pieces of food.


The sharp, pointed appearance of these teeth resemble the fangs of a canine, which is where they got their name. Two canines on top and two on the bottom allow you to rip and tear food.


The bicuspids are known as “pre-molars” and are used for chewing and grinding food. There is one bicuspid behind each canine tooth, making four total.


Molars grow in the rear of the mouth behind the bicuspids and are used for chewing and grinding food. These are most likely to experience tooth decay due to their location in the back of the mouth, making them more difficult to clean. There are two molars on each side of the mouth, as well as top and bottom, making a total of eight. 

Many people grow third molars, which you might recognize as your wisdom teeth, that sometimes need extraction. But not everyone has them!

Comprehensive Dental Care in Reston, VA

Now that you know your teeth a little better, you can communicate better with your dentist if you’re experiencing a problem. At the very least, maybe you now appreciate the roles your teeth play in shaping your face and helping you live your life.

Schedule regular cleanings and exams with Ridgetop Dental Group in Reston, VA to keep your teeth healthy. Request a cleaning online today or give our office a call.

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