Incisor Tooth: Where Is It Located & What Is It Used For?

Incisor Tooth: Where Is It Located & What Is It Used For?
profile picture of Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
Incisor Tooth: Where Is It Located & What Is It Used For?Clinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
Last Modified:

Clinical content featured by Byte is reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to help ensure clinical accuracy.

We follow strict sourcing guidelines and each page contains a full list of sources for complete transparency.

Table of Contents

  1. What Are Incisor Teeth
  2. What Are Incisors For
  3. What Can Happen to Your Incisors
  4. Get Help to Align Your Incisor Teeth
  5. References

Your incisors are the four frontmost teeth in your top arch and the four in your bottom jaw. When they are properly aligned, your top incisors will fit just slightly in front of your bottom ones.

Several types of misalignment can cause injury, damage, or infection to your incisors, so properly aligning these teeth is important to your smile.

What Are Incisor Teeth?

Adult humans have eight incisor teeth: four on the top and four on the bottom. The lateral incisors are those on the outer edges, while the central incisors are the teeth in the very center of your mouth. These are the frontmost teeth, which are thinner and sharper than other teeth, with a flat edge.

Sometimes, the incisors are called the anterior teeth since they exist foremost in the mouth. These teeth evolved to cut into food when you bite into it, and they help shred the food into smaller pieces.

Ideally, the incisors fit together to cleanly bite pieces of food. The top incisors will fit just slightly in front of the bottom incisors. However, many people have different types of malocclusions, or misalignments, so the incisors do not fit together. Various orthodontic treatments, including clear plastic aligners, braces, or retainers, can realign these teeth so you can avoid dental health issues and have a smile you are proud of.

What Are Incisors For?

The incisors are the most noticeable teeth when you smile. The top four incisors are part of the social six, or the front, top six teeth that are most prominent in the mouth when a person smiles or speaks. Although the social six get the most media attention, and the most cosmetic dental correction with veneers or braces, the bottom incisors are very important for your overall oral health.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), your permanent incisors will come in at different points:

  • Bottom central incisors: between 6 and 7 years old
  • Bottom lateral incisors: between 7 and 8 years old
  • Top central incisors: between 7 and 8 years old
  • Top lateral incisors: between 8 and 9 years old

The age that childhood teeth are lost and adult or permanent teeth come in varies from child to child, but these teeth should begin to loosen around 6 years old. If there is a delay longer than a year, check with your child’s dentist.

When your incisors fit together, you are able to comfortably and safely bite into a wide range of foods, from sandwiches to apples. However, many people do not have incisors that fit together, which can create problems with biting into food.

You may bite into harder foods like carrots from the side because your front teeth hurt when you use them. Your teeth may shift over time, leaving a gap between them that can cause chipping or crowding together, which can make them harder to clean.

A unique attribute of an incisor tooth is it has a single long root, as opposed to molars, which typically have 2-3 roots per tooth.

What Can Happen to Your Incisors?

Since the incisors are at the front of your mouth, they are at risk of certain types of damage, injuries, or infection, which other teeth may be less susceptible to.

Chipped Teeth

If you bite into a very hard food like a nut or an ice cube, or if you have a tongue or lip piercing, you may chip your incisors. You may only remove a little of the edge of an incisor, which can cause the tooth to appear misshapen. You may also remove enough of the tooth that it hurts and exposes considerable dentin or even the root.

Your dentist will need to fix more severe chips. This is sometimes done with a veneer, but other times, a crown is used to protect the inside of your incisor.

Grinding Teeth
If you clamp your teeth down together very hard due to stress or while asleep, this bruxism can lead to wearing of the top surface of your incisors. This may make them smaller or flatter in appearance, can skew them outward or cause them to turn, or make them appear yellow. The enamel can become more delicate, making the incisors more prone to chipping, cracking, and cavities.
Gingivitis or Receding Gums

The earliest stages of gum disease are considered gingivitis, when the gums become redder, inflamed, and painful. They may bleed more often when you brush and floss your teeth.

Receding gums are a sign of gum disease — both gingivitis and periodontitis. This may be more apparent in the incisors than other teeth, as they begin to appear longer than they did before.

Cavaties
The front teeth may be susceptible to cavities if you do not properly brush and floss them each day. You may also drink too many acidic drinks, including sodas or juice. You may suffer from acid reflux, which causes enamel erosion, or you may not have enough fluoride in your drinking water or the toothpaste you use.
People who have misaligned top and bottom incisors are at greater risk of these issues appearing. These are common malocclusions of the incisors:
Overbite
This occurs when the top teeth significantly overlap the bottom teeth.
Underbite
This alignment problem occurs when the bottom teeth protrude further than the top teeth; the top incisors should protrude slightly over the bottom teeth.
Overjet
This is a horizontal misalignment of the top and bottom teeth, when they protrude. It may include the appearance of buck teeth. Overjets can be caused by mouth breathing or tongue thrusting, or genetics.

Get Help to Align Your Incisor Teeth

If your incisors are misaligned, you may want to straighten them; however, many cosmetic options only target the social six, or your top six teeth, which will not fix any bite misalignment. Fortunately, there are several other options, like over-the-counter clear aligners with teledentistry support, which can improve your incisor bite.

References

Teeth: Names, Types, and Functions. (October 2019). MedicalNewsToday. Date fetched: June 20, 2021.

What are the Different Parts of a Tooth? Colgate. Date fetched: June 20, 2021.

Malocclusion of Teeth. (June 2021). MedlinePlus. Date fetched: June 20, 2021.

What 10 Common Mouth Issues Really Look Like. MouthHealthy, from the American Dental Association (ADA). Date fetched: June 20, 2021.

What Causes a Cavity on the Front Tooth? Colgate. Date fetched: June 20, 2021.

Chipped or Cracked Tooth Causes and Repair. Crest. Date fetched: June 20, 2021.

Overjet vs. Overbite: What’s the Difference? Colgate. Date fetched: June 20, 2021.

Types of Underbite Correction Treatments. Colgate. Date fetched: June 20, 2021.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

TOP