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What Is an Incisor?

An incisor is one of the eight teeth in the front of the mouth with straight cutting edges. These teeth are in the shape of a chisel and are sharp. When chewing food, the incisors’ task is to grasp, cut and gnaw food before passing it on to the rest of the teeth.

The eight incisors are divided according to their location. The four incisors located on the top jaw are referred to as the maxillary incisors. The central two are the maxillary central incisors and the two on the sides are the maxillary lateral incisors. The bottom jaw holds the mandible central and mandible lateral incisors.

Incisors are the first teeth that humans develop. Eventually they fall out and are replaced by the permanent incisors by the time a child is 12 years old. Incisors have long cone shaped roots that attach them to the jaw. Unlike the molars, incisors are less prone to decay as they have less surface for cavities to set in.

If they appear crooked and not aligned well, the incisors are often forcibly straightened for aesthetic reasons. The incisors are the main teeth that are visible when you smile, talk or eat. The most prominent teeth in the mouth are the maxillary central incisors. They have a straight edge and a slightly curved shape. Lateral incisors are often much narrower than central incisors but they all appear alike. The smallest teeth in the dental arch are the mandible central incisors. They are symmetrical, long and narrow with a straight edge. The mandible lateral incisors are bigger and more rounded that the central mandible incisors.

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