Just as you need to know basic vocabulary before you learn a foreign language, you need to know the specific names of teeth before you can understand the language of dentistry. Bicuspid teeth are one of the four main types of teeth found in the mouth. The other three are called molars, cuspids and incisors. Bicuspid teeth are unique in function and are very important to overall oral health.
What Are Bicuspids?
"Bicuspid" derives from two root words: the first, bi-, meaning two, and -cusp, meaning the little mountain-like projections that are raised on a tooth. In the deciduous (baby teeth) dentition, there are no bicuspids. Bicuspid teeth erupt around age 10 to 12, when the deciduous molars fall out, according to the American Dental Association. As a child's jaw grows, the bicuspid teeth fill the narrow bone where the baby molars once lived, and the permanent molars come in further back behind the bicuspids. This is why the bicuspids are also known as "premolars." The premolar teeth lie directly between the cuspids and the molars.
What Is the Purpose of Bicuspids?
Since the bicuspids live between the cuspids and the molars, they serve as an intermediate function of both sets of teeth. The bicuspids have pointy tips for tearing food like a cuspid, yet they have the broad, square biting surface area needed for chewing food, like molars. Eight of the 32 teeth that comprise the adult dentition are bicuspids, four are on the top row and four are on the bottom. Sometimes when orthodontists need to gain extra space when straightening crowded teeth, one or more bicuspids may be removed.
How Can You Keep Bicuspids Healthy?
While you cannot often see the premolars when you smile, it is very important to maintain their health. They provide essential chewing function and assist in maintaining the bone health at the corners of the mouth. Keep enamel strong so plaque acids do not erode the surface of these teeth. Regular home care will also assist in preventing gum disease and bone loss around the roots of the bicuspids. Brush with Colgate Total Advanced Deep Clean toothpaste, which fights germs for 12 hours and helps maintain a dentist-clean feeling with advanced-cleaning silica similar to what dentists use, to ensure a healthy smile.