Canine tooth

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

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Overview

Canine tooth
Azawakh K9.jpg
This dog's longer pointed cuspids show why they are particularly associated with canines.
Gray997.png
Permanent teeth of right half of lower dental arch, seen from above.
Latin dentes canini
Gray's subject #242 1116
MeSH Cuspid

In mammalian oral anatomy, the canine teeth, also called cuspids, dogteeth, fangs, or (in the case of those of the upper jaw) eye teeth, are relatively long, pointed teeth. However, they can appear more flattened, causing them to resemble incisors and leading them to be called incisiform. They evolved and are used primarily for firmly holding food in order to tear it apart, and occasionally as weapons. They are often the largest teeth in a mammal's mouth. Most species that develop them normally have four per individual, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower, separated within each jaw by its incisors; humans and dogs are examples. In most animals, canines are the anterior-most teeth in the maxillary bone. It is a common fallacy to describe canine teeth as being the hallmark of a carnivorous diet - the teeth associated with carnivory are the carnassial teeth.

The four canines in humans are the two maxillary canines and the two mandibular canines.

Details

There are four Canine Teeth: two in the upper (maxillary) and two in the lower (mandibular) arch. A canine is placed laterally to each lateral incisor. They are larger and stronger than the incisors, and their roots sink deeply into the bones, and cause well-marked prominences upon the surface.

The crown is large and conical, very convex on its labial surface, a little hollowed and uneven on its lingual surface, and tapering to a blunted point or cusp, which projects beyond the level of the other teeth. The root is single, but longer and thicker than that of the incisors, conical in form, compressed laterally, and marked by a slight groove on each side.

The upper canine teeth (popularly called eye teeth) are larger and longer than the lower, and usually present a distinct basal ridge. The name "eyeteeth" derives from a superstition that the roots of the canines are involved with the eyes in such a way that loss of the eyeteeth can cause blindness. The expression of giving one's eyeteeth for something refers to this superstition and to the importance of these teeth in the dentition.

The lower canine teeth (popularly called stomach teeth) are placed nearer the middle line than the upper, so that their summits correspond to the intervals between the upper canines and the lateral incisors.

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This article was originally based on an entry from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy. As such, some of the information contained herein may be outdated. Please edit the article if this is the case, and feel free to remove this notice when it is no longer relevant.


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