'Tooths' or 'Teeth': What is the Plural of 'Tooth'?

By Sophia Merton, updated on October 21, 2022

While many English words are easy to make plural, ‘tooth’ is not one of them. Are you wondering whether the plural of ‘tooth’ is ‘tooths’ or ‘teeth’? In this article, we’re going to definitively answer that question.

The short answer is: the plural of ‘tooth’ is ‘teeth.’

What Is the Plural of ‘Tooth’?

The correct plural form of ‘tooth’ is ‘teeth.’ ‘Tooths’ is never the proper way to pluralize ‘tooth.’

The only time you would use ‘tooth’ with an ‘s’ at the end is if there is an apostrophe before the ‘s’ to indicate a ‘tooth’ possessing something.

While it might sound silly for a composition of proteins and minerals to have something in its possession, there are a few occasions where this might be appropriate. For example:

  • Most of my teeth are healthy, but this tooth's pain is nearly unbearable.
  • This tooth’s cavity needs a filling.

As you might notice, this isn’t necessarily the most elegant way to make these statements, but they are technically correct. There are other ways to convey the same meaning of the above sentences, for example:

  • Most of my teeth are healthy, but I’m experiencing nearly unbearable pain in my right incisor tooth.
  • The cavity in my tooth needs a filling.

Note: While the most commonly used definition of the word ‘tooth’ refers to the individual “hard, bony enamel-coated structures in the jaws of most vertebrates used for biting and chewing,” there are a number of other related definitions for the word. These are:

    • Effectiveness of genuine force in an agreement or law or in a body
    • A part of an instrument or tool that projects, particularly as a part of a series that engage together
    • Roughness is applied to a surface in order to allow for glue or color to adhere

Why Is It ‘Teeth’ Instead of ‘Tooths’?

In English, there are a number of rules regarding how to refer to more than one person, place, or thing.

When you are dealing with regular nouns like cat or house, you simply add an ‘s’ to make the plural form (e.g., cats or houses.)

When singular nouns end in -s, -ss, -sh, -ch, -x, or -z, you simply add “es” to the end to make the plural form. For example, the plural of ‘lunch’ is ‘lunches,’ and the plural of ‘bus’ is ‘buses.’ (Just a note, some singular nouns that end in -z or -s do require you to double the final consonant.)

For nouns that end in -f or -fe, it’s common for the -f or -fe to be switched to -ve before the -s is added (such as wife and wives), but there are also some exceptions (such as belief and beliefs.)

When singular nouns end in an ‘o’, an ‘es’ is added to make it plural. This is the case with the word ‘tomato.’

These are only a few of the rules about pluralizing singular nouns in English. As you can see, it’s not as straightforward as it is in some other languages to refer to a noun in its plural form.

However, even given that, we haven’t seen any rules that would apply to ‘tooth’ in a way that would lead us to think that the plural is anything other than ‘tooths.’

This isn't the case, though. This is because ‘tooth’ is considered an irregular noun. These are nouns that don’t follow any specific rules. Unfortunately, that means that the best way to know how to pluralize these nouns is to look them up in a dictionary or to memorize them.

Other examples of irregular nouns include:

  • Foot – feet
  • Woman – women
  • Man – men
  • Goose – geese
  • Child – children
  • Person – people
  • Mouse – mice

How to Use ‘Teeth” Correctly

To refer to more than one ‘tooth,’ the proper word is ‘teeth.’ Here are some examples of using the plural of ‘tooth’ in a sentence:

  • She didn’t want to go to the dentist because she was afraid they would need to pull several teeth.
  • Jonathan was so angry he clenched his teeth.
  • To keep your teeth in good health, you’ll want to brush them once in the morning and once at night.
  • The citizens were worried that the new law didn’t really have any teeth to it.
  • He needed braces on his bottom teeth but not on his top teeth.
  • The instrument’s teeth were becoming brittle and weak.
  • He could see the wolf’s teeth from across the field.

Final Thoughts on ‘Tooths’ Vs. ‘Teeth’

Pluralizing irregular nouns can be frustrating because there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to them. While there are many English words that are easy to pluralize (think cats, dogs, and horses), others are completely counterintuitive.

The more confusing words you study, the better you are able to understand which word is the right one to use in any given context. As you learn over time, you'll find that using the proper plural form of irregular nouns like 'tooth' becomes much easier and more natural.

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Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia Merton is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is passionate about reading, writing, and the written word. Her goal is to help everyone, whether native English speaker or not, learn how to write and speak with perfect English.

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