Lions and tigers have them, hippos have them, in fact, all mammals have canine teeth, including humans. These are also called cuspids or eye teeth. Most mammals develop 4 cuspid teeth, two on top and 2 on the bottom. The top cuspids are typically longer than the bottom, and they are the longest sharpest teeth in the mouth. The cuspids are each next to incisors. The cuspids have deep roots and are the strongest teeth in the mouth. These teeth are primarily used for holding food firmly in place in order to tear it apart.
Why are cuspids different?
In the animal world these teeth are important. They help predators catch their prey and rip the meat they eat. They are also used in defense and protection. In some species, the longer the male’s cuspids, the more likely he will be to attract a mate. Some male species’ canine teeth are up to 400% longer than those of the female. Animals with tusks, such as a walrus, are actually enlarged canine teeth.
In humans, our cuspids are not needed for these things, and they are therefore not usually as large, as long, or as sharp. Human cuspids help position and support the upper lip for a pleasing appearance. The upper cuspids are farther out than the bottom cuspids. They are offset to guide our teeth for a smooth an efficient bite. Good positioning of these cuspid teeth also help us forming words properly.
Don’t want pointy cuspids that look like fangs?
Many of us have things about our smile that we don’t quite like – gaps, crookedness, color… Some people have long pointy cuspids that resemble vampire fangs. There is nothing wrong with having long or pointy canine teeth, but if you feel self-conscious about yours, a dentist can help.
Tooth reshaping or recontouring can quickly and easily transform the shape and length of your long and pointy cuspids so that they look more consistent with the rest of your smile. The procedure is usually painless. Only a small amount of enamel is removed. A dentist with an artistic eye uses a sanding instrument to shape, sculpt, and whittle away any imperfections to the shape of the tooth. A dentist may also use some bonding to add tooth-colored material to the tooth in order to sculpt and reshape it.
A dentist is the best choice for treating the shape and size of your teeth, but there are some out there that try to fix their teeth with DIY. Patients have been known to try to file their own teeth with common household tools such as nail files, wood files, or other sharp items. Even power tools have been used! This DIY is not only a dangerous approach it can cause lasting damage to the surface of the teeth.
Beware if you DO want pointy cuspids
Although most patients that come in for a treatment for their cuspids want to make them smaller, shorter, or less pointy, there are some patients out there that actually want to have their cuspids more remarkable. There is a new fashion trend for vampire teeth. Especially teens, are trying to file their own teeth to make them sharp and pointy. Some are even attaching things to their teeth with super glue. To be clear, what we are looking at here is people, and lots of them, using superglue, model glue, acrylic, nail glue, and a variety of other toxic adhesives to attach some sort of fang-like appendage to their teeth.
This is an extremely dangerous idea! These adhesives are not meant for consumption. If they are swallowed and ingested, they could be poisonous. The chemicals in the adhesives can damage the tooth enamel, irritate the gums, cause inflammation in the mouth and even cause chemical burns.
Another problem with this trend is that the attached fangs can be extremely difficult to get off later. It can take hours with even more toxic chemicals to remove them. Some have even unintentionally pulled out their real teeth when trying to pull off their attached vampire teeth.
This is where we come in! If you are self-conscious about your cuspids, we can help give them a more common shape (or if you prefer, a more vampire-like one!) If you have attempted DIY, we can help you repair your teeth. If you have attempted to attach something to your teeth, we can help you remove it more safely. Come see us at Danville Family Dentistry and we help you have a smile you can be proud of. Contact us today! 317-745-4400.
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Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.