What Are Anterior Teeth?

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  • Written By: Jane Lapham
  • Edited By: S. Pike
  • Last Modified Date: 05 June 2019
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Anterior teeth include the central and lateral incisors and the canine teeth. They make up the six upper and six lower front teeth. The anterior teeth are the teeth that are most visible when a person smiles, and they are also among the first baby teeth to be lost and replaced by permanent adult teeth. They differ from posterior teeth in that they usually have a single root, whereas posterior teeth generally have multiple roots. They are also shaped differently, because they are used for cutting and tearing rather than grinding, which is the function of the posterior teeth.

Deciduous teeth are those that are commonly referred to as "baby," "milk," or "temporary" teeth. These are the teeth that are lost in childhood to be replaced by permanent teeth. All of the anterior teeth are included in the deciduous dental arch and are replaced by permanent adult teeth in childhood. This is not true of the posterior teeth, since some of the posterior teeth are not present in the deciduous arch. The typical deciduous arch contains 20 teeth, while the typical adult dental arch contains 32.


The incisors include the four teeth in the front-most region of the mouth. They are flat or shovel-shaped and are used for cutting food. This contrasts with teeth in the posterior region of the mouth, which feature a broad, flat-shaped biting surface useful for grinding. Incisors have a single root in virtually all cases, and are the first teeth to be lost and replaced during childhood. The deciduous central incisors are typically replaced at six or seven years of age. The lateral incisors are typically replaced at seven or eight years.

Canine teeth may also be referred to as cuspids. These are the teeth popularly known as eye teeth due to their location directly beneath the eye. Canines are spear-shaped, with a pointed tip that is useful in gripping and tearing food. They usually have a single root, although they can have two roots. They are the longest teeth in the mouth, and they have a shape that causes some to call them fangs. Deciduous canine teeth are lost and replaced by permanent adult canines typically between the ages of nine and 12.

Each of the anterior teeth, like the posterior teeth, feature a crown and a root. The crown is the visible portion that has erupted from the gum. The root is the portion that resides under the gum, anchoring the tooth in the jaw. The root accounts for approximately two-thirds of the tooth, while the crown accounts for the other third. This is true of both anterior teeth and posterior teeth.


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Post 4

I have a cousin who has lost more than one anterior tooth. When he smiles there are gaps in his teeth and it is hard not to find yourself staring at them.

He has false teeth he can wear so this isn't so noticeable, but I have never seen him wear them. This wouldn't be so distracting if they were on the side of his mouth, but they are right in front.

I know I would feel very self-conscious if this were me and would never want to smile. His wife gets frustrated because he won't put his false teeth in when he already has them. He doesn't even need to find a dentist or have anything else done, he is just too lazy to wear them every day.

Post 3
I remember when I had my wisdom teeth removed it was not very fun. I had more problems than most people did as I ended up getting an infection on one side. I think it would have been easier if I had these removed when I was younger.

My dentist removes wisdom teeth, so I started out at his office. He was not able to get one of them pulled and I ended up going to an oral surgeon to have the process completed.

This is the only time I have had any teeth pulled and I hope it is the last. I want to be able to keep all of my anterior teeth as long as I can. I don't miss my wisdom teeth at all, but imagine it would feel strange to lose any of my anterior teeth.

Post 2

When I think of anterior teeth, I always think of a child who has lost their two front teeth. This often happens when they are in kindergarten, and it can be a pretty big deal.

When my son was in kindergarten, they made a big deal about losing your front teeth. This could also be used as a teaching moment about the differences between your anterior teeth and posterior teeth and how they have different functions.

I have had more than one tooth extraction with my adult teeth, and can say I would much rather lose my baby teeth than the process you have to go through to have adult teeth pulled.

Instead of receiving any money from the tooth fairy for losing my tooth, I am paying my dentist a lot of money to take my tooth out.

Post 1

The first time I had a tooth pulled, and the dentist showed it to me, I was surprised at how long the roots were. I expected this on some of the back teeth, but didn't think the roots on the anterior teeth would be as long as they were.

I guess since they only have one root instead of two is why they are easier to pull. I had to have an anterior tooth pulled, but thankfully it wasn't one that was in the very front. This was on the side of my mouth and closer to the back.

The only time you can see where this tooth was pulled is when I have a wide smile. I have also noticed that this gap seems to get smaller all the time. I think the anterior tooth that was pulled was right next to my first posterior tooth.

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