The term ‘anterior teeth’ refers to the front teeth as distinct from the posterior or rear teeth. As a group they include the incisors (central and lateral), the canines (known so because of their resemblance to dog teeth), of both the maxilla and the mandible. The remaining teeth in the mouth, namely, the premolars and the molars are referred to as the posterior teeth. Crown portions of incisors are narrow and sharp while the canines are pointed. These shapes are well suited to their design function, i.e., cutting and biting. The help break the food into chunks of sizes suitable for chewing by the posterior teeth. The anterior teeth also help formation of certain sounds correctly. The anterior teeth are not required to mate top to bottom. Rather, the top anterior teeth cover the bottom anterior teeth in a closed moth. This is in contrast to the posterior teeth which must mate vertically to crush and grind.
The anterior teeth are usually the first to erupt in the primary as well as permanent dentition, with bottom central incisors normally taking the lead in most cases. Anterior teeth are also the first to fall out of a primary dentition. However, variations in the eruption pattern of these teeth can also occur.
Anterior teeth are very important for aesthetic reasons. Hence, optima shapes and color of these teeth can significantly improve the appearance and smile of a person. As a result they become the prime object of cosmetic dentistry. For restoration purposes of the anterior teeth, amalgams are not used as filling materials due to their unpleasant appearance, and composites will be preferred because they allow a color match and superior esthetics. Veneers as well as prosthetic crowns can also be used to restore the shape of crooked or chipped anterior teeth.