Why Do We Have Canine Teeth?

woman with mouth wide open

It’s almost time for Halloween and that means a lot of people will soon be dressing up as monsters. Many of these will have elongated teeth—think vampires and werewolves for example. These large, pointy teeth are an important part of many monsters’ frightening mystique. Like monsters, humans actually have a few teeth that are longer and pointier than others in our mouth. These are called canine teeth.

What Are Canine Teeth?

Canine teeth are the largest teeth in a mammal’s mouth. They are longer than non-canine teeth and usually pointed at the tip. Most mammals have four canine teeth each, two on the upper jaw and two on the lower jaw. These are called the two mandibular canines and the two maxillary canines.

Why Do We Have Them?

Canine teeth are important for holding and biting food, and specifically for tearing up meat. This was very important in early human development when in order to survive, humans needed to consume as many calories as possible. The easiest way to do this was by eating meat, which needed to be chewed thoroughly.

Most of us are lucky enough not to worry about running around scavenging and hunting our food anymore. And since many people now embrace vegetarianism, we don’t necessarily need our canines to survive. But these specialized teeth certainly make it easier for us when we do eat meat.

The Animal Connection

Animals like dogs or gorillas use canines for fighting and competing for a mate, but we don’t need them for that. In fact, our canine teeth have become smaller over millions of years, as civilization has evolved.

If reading about canine teeth has got you wondering about the state of your own teeth, give our office a call at (479) 202-0025 to speak to our friendly team! We’d be happy to answer any of your questions.

Mint Dental Care is there for all your oral health needs!