Scarce as hen’s teeth is a saying that means very rare. Birds don’t have teeth, instead stones in their gizzard cut food like our teeth do.
But did you know we humans have several different kinds of teeth among our 32 adult teeth?
(Quick note: You have an upper arch and a lower arch, each of which can have 16 teeth in it.)
Your front teeth, the ones with the flat edges, are called incisors. They are used to bite and cut your food. You have four (4) incisors in each arch for a total of eight (8).
At the corners of your mouth, are your canines or eye teeth. This tooth usually comes to a point on its biting surface and is used for tearing. It got the name canine from looking like a dog’s tooth and the name eye tooth because it is usually located directly below your eye when people look at your face. You have two (2) canines in each arch (one on each side) for a total of four (4).
Behind the canines are your premolars or bicuspids. This tooth is used for chewing. The name premolars shows that they come before (pre-) the molars. Bicuspids shows that they have two (bi-) cusps. Cusps are the raised pointy looking part of your tooth. There are four premolars per arch (two on each side) for a total of eight (8).
At the back of your mouth are your molars. Your molars have a wide chewing surface that is used for grinding up your food. Most of your heavy chewing is done on these teeth. There are six (6) molars in each arch (three on each side)—though you, like most people, may only have two (2) per side in each arch in your mouth. This is because your wisdom teeth are one of your molars! And these days, finding a wisdom tooth that’s fully come in to someone’s mouth is as scarce as a hen’s tooth!
I hope you enjoyed this brief tour through your mouth.
Dr. Jennifer Robb is accepting new patients. Please call 440-960-1940! She is a general dentist with an office at 1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053.
PS: Humans also have 20 deciduous (or "baby") teeth: 8 incisors (4 on the top and 4 on the bottom), 4 canines (2 on top and 2 on bottom) and 8 molars (4 on the top and 4 on the bottom). Your adult premolars replace the baby molars, and your adult molars come in behind your baby molars as your jaw grows.