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Permanent dentition

The permanent dentition consists of the permanent teeth in the human oral cavity, those teeth which remain throughout one’s adult life. The permanent dentition is also known as the secondary dentition. The permanent dentition numbers 32 teeth altogether. There are 16 teeth in both the maxillary and mandibular arches. Each arch can be further divided into anterior and posterior teeth. The anterior teeth are the front six teeth, including two lateral incisors, two central incisors, and two cuspids. There are 10 posterior teeth in each arch, including four premolars and six molars. There are very specific functions of both the anterior and posterior teeth. Teeth generally erupt during a time period (age range) for that particular tooth.

Maxillary Central Incisor of permanent dentition

The maxillary central incisors are the two most anterior teeth in the maxillary arch. The median line bisects them. They are also the first teeth to be found in each of the maxillary quadrants of permanent dentition. This tooth has a sharp incisal edge for cutting food. This edge has developmental mamelons upon eruption. Mamelons are prominences at the incisal edge of a newly erupted tooth. These mamelons wear away with the use of the tooth. This tooth is the widest of all the anterior teeth.

Maxillary Lateral Incisor of permanent dentition

The lateral incisors are the next teeth to be found in the maxillary arch. They are adjacent to the central incisors and have the same form and function. They have a cutting edge and are utilized primarily for ripping and shredding food items. Interestingly, they are the smallest and weakest of the teeth in the maxillary arch.

Maxillary Cuspid/Canine of permanent dentition

The cuspid (canine) is the longest and strongest rooted tooth in the maxillary arch. It is often referred to as the “eye tooth.” The purpose of this tooth is to aid in ripping and tearing food. It’s a very strong tooth and forms the cornerstone of the arch. The shape and function of the cuspid (canine) starts the transition into the posterior portion of the arch of permanent dentition. The cuspid (canine) is the last anterior tooth and is located just distal to both maxillary lateral incisors. The root is single and is the longest root in the arch.

Maxillary First Premolar of permanent dentition

The maxillary first premolar (or first bicuspid) is considered the first posterior tooth. It is double- rooted and double-cusped. It is utilized for the grinding of food on its occlusal surface. It is located distal to the cuspid on both sides of the arch. This tooth is called a premolar because it is in front of the molars.

Maxillary Second Premolar of permanent dentition

The maxillary second premolar is a single-rooted tooth. It has two cusps that are basically of the same size. It has a slightly rounded, molar-like occlusal surface. The occlusal surface is the horizontal surface of the posterior teeth. Its function is in grinding and tearing food. The second premolar continues the transition to a wider occlusal table in the molar area. It is located just distal to the first premolars on both sides of the arch.

Maxillary First Molar of permanent dentition

The maxillary first molar is the largest tooth in the oral cavity. It has three roots—two buccal and one lingual or palatal. It also has four cusps—two buccal and two lingual. It may also contain an accessory cusp that would be located lingually. This cusp is termed the Cusp of Carabelli and may vary in size and shape. The maxillary first molar of permanent dentition is sometimes called the six-year molar due to the time of its initial eruption. It is located distal to the second premolar. The function of the maxillary first molar is in fine grinding of food for deglutition (swallowing).

Maxillary Second Molar of permanent dentition

The maxillary second molar closely resembles the maxillary first molar. However, this molar is

smaller in diameter and the Cusp of Carabelli is not present. The function of this tooth is the same as the maxillary first molar—namely, fme grinding of food. It is sometimes called the twelve-year molar due to its eruption time. The maxillary second molar is located just distal to the maxillary first molar. It is the seventh tooth from the midline and, therefore, the seventh tooth in each maxillary quadrant.

Maxillary Third Molar of permanent dentition

The maxillary third molar is the eighth and last tooth in the maxillary arch. It can vary in shape and size dramatically. It can have a single fused root or many roots. Its occlusal surface is generally heart-shaped, but this can greatly differ. It is also known as the wisdom tooth due to the fact that its eruption time occurs in later years, usually when a person is 16 to 22 years old.

Mandibular Central Incisor of permanent dentition

The mandibular central incisor is located on both sides of the median line. It is the smallest tooth in the oral cavity. It also has the most symmetrical design. It has no mamelons or developmental grooves. This tooth is the first tooth of both quadrants of the mandibular arch.

Mandibular Lateral Incisor of permanent dentition

The mandibular lateral incisor closely resembles the central incisor. It is shaped similarly. However, it is larger in all dimensions. It is the second tooth of each mandibular quadrant and just distal to the mandibular central incisor.

Mandibular Cuspid (Canine) of permanent dentition

The mandibular cuspid (canine) resembles the maxillary cuspid (canine). However, this tooth has a shorter root and a longer, wider crown. It functions as the lower arch stabilizer. It is the last anterior tooth, located just distal to the lateral incisor. The root is not as long as the maxillary cuspid’s (canine’s) and is flatter.

The mandibular first premolar of permanent dentition (also known as bicuspid) is the first tooth of the posterior dentition. Its function is grinding. It has a large functional buccal cusp and a smaller, relatively non-functional lingual cusp. It is located distal to the cuspid and is the fourth tooth from the median line.

Mandibular Second Premolar of permanent dentition

The mandibular second premolar (sometimes called bicuspid) has three cusps—one larger buccal cusp and two smaller lingual cusps. Its primary purpose is in the grinding of food. It is slightly larger than the first premolar. The second premolar is found just distal to the first premolar in both quadrants and is the fifth tooth from the median line.

Mandibular First Molar of permanent dentition

The mandibular first molar is the largest tooth in the mandibular arch and is the first permanent tooth to erupt. It has two roots-one mesial and one distal. It has five cusps on the occlusal surface. It is just distal to the second premolar.

Mandibular Second Molar of permanent dentition

The mandibular second molar is located distal to the first molar. It is similar in function to the first molar. It has four cusps—two buccal and two lingual. The second molar also has two roots-one distal and the other mesial, both smaller than those of the first molar.

Mandibular Third Molar of permanent dentition

The mandibular third molar is the last tooth in each mandibular quadrant. It is sometimes called the wisdom tooth, just like its maxillary counterpart. The third molar can have many distinctive shapes, forms, and sizes. It may have four or five cusps like the first and second molars. The roots may either be fused together or widely spread apart. The third molar usually has a mesial angle.

THE ERUPTION OF PERMANENT DENTITION

Tooth Eruption Age (in years)

Maxillaty Arch

  • Central Incisor 7—8 years
  • Lateral Incisor 7—9 years
  • Cuspids 11—13 years
  • First Premolar 9—11 years
  • Second Premolar 10—12 years
  • First Molar 6—7 years
  • Second Molar 11—14 years
  • Third Molar 16—22 years

Mandibular Arch

  • Central Incisor 6—8 years
  • Lateral Incisor 7—8 years
  • Cuspid 9—10 years
  • First Premolar 10—12 years
  • Second Premolar 11—12 years
  • First Molar 6—7 years
  • Second Molar 11—14 years
  • Third Molar 16—22 years

About Dr. Muna

Dr. Muna Taqi is a Dental surgeon from India who has more than 10 years of experience in the field of Oral & Maxillofacial surgery, Endodontics, & Pedodontics. She has worked in multinational medical corporates in Middle East and is also a consultant dental surgeon for many. She has authored many articles for medical journals & websites and is a consultant dental expert for Healthdrip.

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