What are bicuspids?
Bicuspids, also known as premolars, are the teeth located between your canines and molars. They are often referred to as transitional teeth, taking on properties of both the canines and the molars. Bicuspids get their name from their shape—“bi” meaning two, and “cusps” referring to the points on the crown of the tooth.
There are first and second premolars, so each person typically gets eight of them, two in each of the quadrants of the mouth. Premolars are unique to adult teeth, and they typically erupt around age 12-13.
Why do we have bicuspids?
Bicuspids serve a dual purpose in the chewing and biting process, since they have traits of both canines and molars.
According to Dr. Cheryl Lerner, bicuspids “are some of the most interesting looking teeth in the mouth—simple yet elegant, and very useful. Hopefully no one loses a molar, but if one does, the premolar can help with grinding of the food as well as cutting the pieces. The front, or facial, surface, resembles a canine, but the biting, or occlusal, surface, is like a mini-molar.”
Does everyone have bicuspids?
In the past, bicuspids (either the firsts or seconds, but not both) were extracted to make room for moving the rest of the teeth during orthodontics. According to Dr. Thomas Redd, “Extraction of bicuspids for orthodontic reasons was more common in the past, and while not eliminated, the need for and instances of extraction of bicuspids has decreased greatly more recently.”
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