The superior dental arch is larger than the inferior, so that in the normal condition the teeth in the maxillae slightly overlap those of the mandible both in front and at the sides.
Since the upper central incisors are wider than the lower, the other teeth in the upper arch are thrown somewhat distally, and the two sets do not quite correspond to each other when the mouth is closed: thus the upper canine tooth rests partly on the lower canine and partly on the first premolar, and the cusps of the upper molar teeth lie behind the corresponding cusps of the lower molar teeth.
The two series, however, end at nearly the same point behind; this is mainly because the molars in the upper arch are the smaller.
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This article incorporates text from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy.
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