Canine teeth also called as cuspid or cornerstone is the pointed teeth present at the corner of the mouth. Canine teeth are adapted for tearing of food and various other functions.
There is a total of four canine teeth present in the entire dental arch where each is present between incisors (front teeth) and premolar.
Humans have small canines comparative to other animals that exposed slightly beyond the level of the other teeth. Also, canine tooth in human has the longest root among all the other teeth in the dental arch.
The root of canine creates a bulge in the upper jaw that supports the sides of the lip and this bulge is known as canine eminence.
How canine teeth got its name?
Canine teeth are named after the genus Canis or canine due to their resemblance to a dog’s fangs which belong to the same genus.
Canine teeth are prominent in other carnivorous and in also primates such as gorilla or chimpanzee. Human canines are not as long and pointed as dog’s teeth, but they are very similar as it is in the same position and often longer and more pointed than the other teeth.
The maxillary permanent canine has many names like –
- Dog teeth.
- Beauty teeth.
- Cornerstones of dental arches.
- Eye teeth.
- Corner teeth.
Canine teeth are often known as eye teeth, due to the fact that they appear directly below the eye sockets. Dentists also call them cuspids as canine consist of only one cusp.
Another name for a canine is beauty teeth as it supports the corner of the lips and plays a significant role in aesthetics. (1)
Why are the canine teeth required?
Canine teeth play many important roles, and these are important for biting or tearing of food, and specifically for tearing up meat. Canine came along with evolution when a man used to consume a lot of meat to acquire more calories.
Here are the primary functions that are performed by the canine teeth –
- Tearing and biting of food.
- Canine assist premolars and incisors in mastication of food.
- Canine helps in maintaining the shape of the lips.
- Guiding the other teeth into position.
- Provides support to your cheeks and lips.
- Helps to form basic facial expressions.
Structure of canine teeth
There are four canines in the dental arch, two in lower jaw two in the upper jaw. Canine are present behind the incisors and before the premolars.
The crown of the canine is conical and very convex from its frontal view. The crown of canine teeth tapers to form a pointed cusp, which appears beyond the limits of other teeth.
The canine tooth has a single root, but longer and thicker than rest of the anterior teeth present in the dental arch. The surface facing tongue also represents two depressions separated by a ridge in between.
These depressions are known as a lingual ridge. Canine are adapted to hold and bite food.
When canine tooth erupts in the oral cavity?
In primary or baby teeth lower canines erupt earlier than the upper canine. Lower primary canine erupts in 16 months after the birth and upper canine erupt after 23 months after birth.
Children start to shed their primary canines from between age 9 to 12. After baby teeth, permanent teeth come out in the oral cavity.
Lower permanent canines erupt by the age of 9 to 10 years, and lower permanent canines come out by age 11 to 12 years. (2)
Canine teeth and gingival recession
Due to the prominent position of canine in the mouth, the gum tissue surrounding the root of canine is more vulnerable to erosion.
Various studies state that mandibular incisors and maxillary canines are the most favorable sites of gingival recession.
While brushing, canines receive most of the pressure as they are exposed more than other teeth which cause more damage to canine than other teeth.
Brush gently around the gum tissue of canine with a soft bristled brush to prevent gum recession in canine teeth.
Clinical importance of canine teeth
- The relationship between upper and lower canine is necessary for consideration while classifying malocclusion.
- Upper canines are most commonly impacted teeth after wisdom teeth. (3)
- Maxillary canines (upper canine) provide good support when utilizing as an abutment for missing teeth.
- Frequent bifurcation in lower canines should be considered during root canal treatment.
- Canine erupts after premolars and incisors if enough space is not let for them to come out then they often come above other teeth causing malocclusion.
Over to you
Canine teeth are placed at the corners of the mouth, hence often called as the cornerstone. The crown of canine has a sharp, pointed biting surface. Their function is to hold and bite the food. There are four canine teeth in the entire dental arch.
The position of the canine teeth helps to establish normal facial expression at corners of your mouth and thus. they have high esthetic value.
Facial profile changes when canines are lost for some reason. Taking proper care of canine is necessary as it is more prone to gingival recession.