Mandibular incisors are the four teeth located at the front of the lower jaw. There are two types: mandibular central incisors and mandibular lateral incisors. Their location and shape make them ideal for herbivorous and omnivorous animals. The mandibular incisors are vulnerable to deformities during the course of human development. Treating tooth decay in mandibular incisors is more difficult than treating it in other teeth.
The first type of mandibular incisors are mandibular central incisors. These are the two front teeth on the lower jaw. For infants, they are usually the first teeth to appear in the mouth. Both the primary and permanent versions initially have a jagged appearance. Years of use generally smooth out the tops of booth teeth.
The second type of mandibular incisors are mandibular lateral incisors. These two teeth flank the mandibular central incisors. Though shaped slightly different than mandibular central incisors, their function is identical: cutting or shearing food during chewing. The size and shape of the mandibular incisors support humans' omnivorous diet. Carnivorous animals generally have smaller incisors and larger canine teeth to grab a hold of meat.
In humans, mandibular incisors are vulnerable to both major and minor deformities. In very rare cases, the incisors are not present in either their primary or permanent form. In these cases, bridges or dentures may be necessary to correct dental function and cosmetic appearance. A much more common deformity is crowded teeth. Tooth crowding is usually apparent in early adolescence after all permanent teeth have appeared; for the majority of patients, corrective braces solve this problem.
The mandibular incisors are especially prone to cavities. Plaque buildup on the back of the teeth is common if one drinks a large amount of sugary drinks such as juice or soda. Another factor is that these four teeth are the smallest in the human mouth. Once a cavity has formed, it more quickly spreads throughout the tooth. Treating cavities in these teeth is more difficult than those that form in molars.
Due to the shape of the incisors, a dentist must use a different technique to treat cavities here. Depending on on the cavity's exact location, the dentist usually drills at an angle as to not fracture the tooth. The rest of the procedure is identical to that of other cavity fillings. If the cavity is severe, a root canal using the same angular drilling becomes necessary; the vast majority of these fillings and root canals are successful.