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canine tooth n.
Any of four teeth having a thick conical crown and a long conical root, adjacent to the distal surface of the lateral incisors, in both deciduous and permanent dentition. Also called cuspid.
in mammals, any of the single-cusped (pointed), usually single-rooted teeth adapted for tearing food, and occurring behind or beside the incisors (front teeth). Often the largest teeth in the mouth, the canines project beyond the level of the other teeth and may interlock when the mouth is closed, restricting the animal to an up-and-down chewing action. Among sheep, oxen, and deer, only the upper canines are large; the lower ones resemble incisors. Rodents lack canines. The tusks of wild boar, walrus, and the extinct sabre-toothed cat are enlarged canines. In some animals (e.g., pig, deer, baboon, gorilla), the male has much larger canines than does the female; these perform a threatening and protective function besides that of tearing. (The tusks of elephants are upper incisors, not canine teeth. Canine teeth are absent.)