Incisors are special kinds of teeth that can be found in some mammals, such as humans. They are the eight large flat teeth with straight edges that are at the front of a person's mouth, in between the canine teeth, which are pointed. The straight edges of the incisors are useful for biting because they cut sharply. They come together like a pair of pincers. In a human, the two teeth at the middle of each jaw are called the "central incisors", and the side ones are the "lateral incisors". (lateral means "to the side"). Some humans never grow "lateral incisors" or have very small ones, particularly at the top.
In many mammalian herbivores (plant-eaters) these front teeth are used to cut off stems of grass and other growing things, that are then ground up by the molars at the back of the mouth. Some omnivores (animals that eat both plants and meat), like humans, have incisors like herbivores. In carnivores (meat-eating mammals) like cats, the incisors are often quite small. The canine teeth are long and suitable for grasping and stabbing. Carnivores use their incisors for many jobs that need fine control, such as catching fleas, carrying a kitten or peeling the skin off a fish. If a dog or a member of the cat family needs to cut something with their teeth, they use their back teeth like scissors.
Gallery[change | change source]
Cats have long canine teeth and small incisors.
The incisors of rats, mice and other rodents never stop growing.
Herbivores like horses have teeth that can cut grass.
Dogs use their incisors for many things.