kid smiling with central incisors

What Is A Central Incisor?

When you flash a wide grin, the type of tooth that is front-and-center is the central incisor. Central incisors are the two upper and lower teeth at the very front of the mouth. On either side of them are the lateral incisors, making eight incisors in total in the adult dentition. Due to their position, incisors are the most noticeable teeth in the mouth, and they have various functions other than being the star of your smile.

Central Incisor: Function and Shape

Central incisors are flat and thin, and they slice through food when you take a bite. Although upper and lower central incisors are similar shapes, they are different sizes. The upper central incisors are wide and the most prominent teeth in the human mouth. The lower central incisors are narrow and are smaller.

Functions of central incisors include:

  • Supporting the shape and appearance of the lips.
  • Helping to pronounce certain sounds, like "t" and "th," according to Multicultural Representations.
  • Guiding the jaw into the correct position when the mouth closes.

When Do Central Incisors Appear?

A central incisor is often a baby's first tooth. The lower central incisors usually appear when the baby is 6 to 10 months old, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The upper central incisors follow between the ages of 8 to 12 months. Predictably, the central incisors are often the first teeth children lose, usually at 6 or 7 years of age.

Caring for Central Incisors

Central incisors' prominent position in the mouth means that any discoloration, decay or chips are especially noticeable. Parents should clean their babies' first teeth as soon as they appear by brushing them twice a day with an age-suitable toothbrush that has extra soft bristles for gentle, yet effective cleaning.

Adults should also maintain a regular oral care routine and visit the dentist every six months to maintain the appearance of these front-and-center teeth. If the central incisors are poorly positioned, discolored or chipped, orthodontists and dentists can use braces, teeth whitening, veneers and a range of other treatments to fix the problem and improve the patient's smile.

A central incisor was probably the first tooth to erupt in your mouth when you were a baby. What's more, central incisors perform important roles in eating, speaking and maintaining the facial appearance and jaw position. Take care of your central incisors and speak to your dentist if you notice an issue with these teeth.



Want more tips and offers sent directly to your inbox?

Sign up now

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.