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What are Canines?

Teeth help us bite and chew our food. There are different types of teeth present in our mouth and canine teeth make one of them. Canines are considered to be the longest and sharpest teeth and help us to tear our food. Dentists recognize the four canines we have as cuspids. Other mammals also have canines, especially carnivores. Here, we will study more about canines, their features, and their functions.

The sharpest and longest teeth we find in the jaws of carnivore mammals are called canines. These teeth can be seen when a mammal yawns or eats. This set of teeth is the longest among all the teeth as the prime function is to dig deeper into the bites and to tear flesh from the bones. It is called canine from the reference taken from the scientific name of dogs. It also resembles a carnivore’s fangs. Humans also have canine teeth for the same functions but our canines are shorter as compared to most mammals.

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Position of Canines

If you check the dentition of human beings then you will find that it can be divided into four halves. Each half consists of two incisors, one canine, two premolars, and three molars starting from the middle to the end. It means that one-half contains eight teeth and an adult has 32 teeth in total. It also shows that there are four canines distributed perfectly in the frontal portion of our jaws to help us tear food. If we consider the canine teeth function, we can easily understand how its position is the ideal one. These longest teeth dig deeper into the food when we bite and help us get a good grip. When a proper grip is taken, we can bite the food off with our incisors.

If you check the dentition of a human adult, you will find that this tooth appears in between incisors and premolars. The first canine appears in a human baby at the age of 17-23 months. When the baby is 23 months old, the rest of the canines will appear fully. In fact, an adolescent will lose his or her canines by the age of 9 to 12 years. These teeth will reappear from the jaws and will become permanent.

Functions of Canine Teeth

Apart from biting, chewing, and eating, the sharp canine teeth attractive attributes make a person’s smile look better. It also tends to give a good shape to your facial muscles resulting in a beautiful facial structure. This is the superficial function of these canine teeth.

The prime canine teeth function lies in eating food. As mentioned earlier, these teeth are present in carnivores. This tooth helps in gripping the flesh and bones while preying or eating food. When a carnivore bites, these teeth enter the deepest inside the flesh and allow a strong grip on the eater. Long canine teeth enable the eater to tear food and make smaller pieces for chewing.

Another function of canines is to lock the side movements of the jaws. They also aid in keeping the jaws in position while eating, chewing, breathing, and sleeping. The canines in humans help in maintaining the right shape of the lips. If you look very closely, you will find that the jaws turn from the canines towards the inner part of the oral cavity. This shape is guarded by the canines. These teeth provide extra support to the adjacent teeth too.

As mentioned earlier, canines are used for creating support for all the teeth to lodge on each other. We know that our lower jaw only moves. It uses the canines as locators for the right position to rest, bite, eat, and chew. The position and shape of the jaws are also maintained by these teeth. These teeth help humans to speak and to provide support to the tongue while doing it.

Difference between Canines and other Teeth

Molars and premolars have a broader surface to chew food. They act as grinders and chewers. On the other hand, the incisors are used for cutting food into bite-sized pieces. Canines, on the contrary, are the longest among all the teeth we have in our mouth. They pierce inside the food to get a good grip and let the incisors function easily. Canines can handle wear and tear better than incisors when it comes to biting and tearing food. Dentists suggest taking care of the gums of canines as they are more prone to erosion.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How many canine teeth numbers are there?

Following the dentition formula of humans, there is one canine in every half of the jaws. There are four canines in total, two in each jaw. These teeth are in the front row of both jaws. In fact, every carnivore has four canines in total.

2. Which are the sharpest teeth in humans?

The sharpest teeth in the human jaw are the incisors. They are flat blades that cut down food into bite-sized chunks for easy chewing. These teeth are sharp like blades whereas canines are pointed like spears. The functions of both these teeth are different when it comes to biting, chewing, eating, speaking, etc.

3. How do the sharp canine teeth attractive features make us look beautiful?

Sharp canines protrude longer than all the other teeth. They are visible when we talk, smile, and laugh along with the incisors. The attractive features of the canines come from their shape and length. They also give the right shape to our lips and help us speak by supporting our tongue.