Dental Formula

The dental formula refers to the number and types of teeth a human has. Teeth crush and cut the foods we eat so that we can better digest them for nutrition. All mammals have four types of teeth: molars, premolars, canines and incisors. An adult usually has a total of 32 teeth (wisdom teeth included). Read on to find out what is the dental formula and the functions of different types of teeth.

Dental Formula


The arrangement of teeth in an oral cavity is expressed by a dental formula, which tells us how many teeth there are in a quadrant.

Dental formula for an adult human is shown as follows:

I - 2/2 C - 1/1 P - 2/2 M - 3/3 = 16 x 2 = 32.

The letters I, C, P, and M stands for incisors, canines, premolars, and molars respectively. I - 2/2 means there are two incisors in a quadrant of the oral cavity, and so there are 2+2 four incisors in half of jaw. For the whole set of teeth it’s 4+4=8 incisors. The same goes for canines, premolars and molars. So the total number is 8+4+8+12=32.

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Types of Adult Teeth and Their Functions




The Incisors are located at the front of your mouth in the central position. There are four incisors present on the top and four of them line the bottom. The job of the incisors is to bite the food you eat. Incisors are the first of the baby teeth to emerge when you are around 6 months old. The adult incisors replace the baby ones at around 6 years of age.


The canines are the sharpest teeth we have and have a pointed edge. The job of these teeth is to tear the food especially meat. The canines are four in number and usually grow when the child reaches the age of 20 months.


Humans have eight adult Premolars, four of them on one side of the mouth and the other four on the other side. These teeth perform the task of grinding the food in to smaller particles. The age at which the premolars start appearing is between 10 and 11 years. These teeth are also known as bicuspids.


We have a total of eight molars in our adult teeth set with four of them lining the upper jaw and four of them on the lower jaw. The first and second molars appear at age 6 and 13 respectively and perform the task of chewing the food we eat. The last of the teeth to appear are the third molars which are also referred to as wisdom teeth. You are not going to grow these until you are about 17 years old. A great number of people never grow these teeth while those who do have to get them removed as they cause a lot of pain when erupting and are the major reason for crowding of teeth.



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