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Posterior Teeth

Kate, Dental Technology | Originally Published: 3/14/2018

These are the teeth towards the back of your mouth that aren’t so visible when you smile. Find out what their use is!

In the previous post, I discussed some of the purposes of anterior teeth. Now it’s time to talk about the less visible ones – posterior teeth!

Posterior means to be “situated behind”, as defined by Merriam-Webster. These teeth are generally not visible when you smile with teeth. Unless you’re Julia Roberts! These teeth are have cusps, occlusal surfaces, and are intended for different uses.

Animals that are herbivores tend to have teeth that are broader with flatter surfaces. They make it easier to process and digest plant foods. These back teeth are primarily used for grinding.

There are a total of 20 posterior teeth. The maxillary and mandibular each have a first pre-molar, second pre-molar, first molar, second molar, and third molar. You can see the posterior teeth labeled in the image below:

Posterior Teeth

There are some distinctions between maxillary and mandibular posterior teeth. The shapes differ, the amount of cusps can vary, and size differ. The premolars are smaller than the molars.

These back teeth play just as important of a role in the a person’s bite/occlusion. Where the first molars occlude are the most important. How they occlude is known as the key-to-occlusion, which I’ll talk about in its own post.

The way all teeth come together play a crucial role in how one is able to process food, speak, and so much more!

About The Author

Kate is a Senior Dental Prosthodontics Technology student. She is currently working towards earning her A.S. degree. Kate discovered this field while working for a dentist in Beverly Hills. In her free time, she likes to cook, bake, travel, be outdoors, draw, knit, and things of the sort.