The teeth are a part of our bodies that we all know and love! Often referred to as the “pearly whites”, we go to great lengths to take care of them, keep them as bright as possible, and flash them proudly in pictures. We realize just how important they are for activities such as chewing and even talking. However, are we aware of all aspects of the teeth? In this blog, we will take a closer look at the tooth, and soon come to realize that there is so much more to teeth than we ever before knew!
Evolution of Human Teeth
Surprisingly, teeth evolved over the years mostly based upon human diet. Different teeth are in various places for specific reasons. Not all of our human ancestors had teeth like we do today. They seem to have evolved as humans went from mostly plant consumption to eating animals as well. The size of the teeth and the jaws is smaller today than it was thousands of years ago, and scientists are able to use well-preserved fossilized teeth to reveal the story of how people lived way before our time.
Parts of the Tooth
Many people may not realize that human teeth are comprised of two parts. These parts are as follows:
- The crown of the tooth, which is the part that is visible in the mouth. The function of the tooth is ultimately determined by the shape of the crown.
- The root, which is the part of the tooth that is beneath the gum line. This holds the tooth in place.
In addition to the parts of the tooth, each individual tooth is made up of four distinct types of tissue.
- The pulp of the tooth is the innermost material. The pulp is divided into two parts, the pulp chamber, and the root canal. It also consists of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue.
- Dentin is the material that surrounds the pulp. Located under the tooth enamel, it is from the dentin that the tooth gets its color.
- Enamel, which is an extremely hard tissue, and protects the tooth from the force of chewing and extreme temperatures. It is the enamel that is affected by tooth decay resulting from improper hygiene.
- Cementum is a hard, durable substance located under the gum line covering the root of the tooth.
Types of Teeth
All teeth are certainly not the same! You have probably heard your dentist mention the different types of teeth in the mouth. Each one has its own specific shape and function. In every adult mouth are the following:
- Molars, of which we have 12. 4 of those are what are known as wisdom teeth.
- Incisors, of which we have 8.
- Canines or cuspids, of which we have 4.
- Premolars or bicuspids, of which we have 8.
So what are the functions of the different types of teeth? The molars are primarily used to grind up food. You may have noticed that these are your largest teeth, and they are also the strongest ones in the mouth. Of the 8 incisors, there are 4 on the top and 4 on the bottom. These sharp-edged teeth help us bite into foods. Next time you bite into something, such as a carrot stick, notice that the incisors are used for “cutting” into the food. All adults have 4 canine teeth. They have a pointy surface that helps us tear into our food as we bite it. These teeth are also extremely sharp and are located next to the incisors, with 2 on the top jaw, and 2 on the bottom. Finally, the premolars are large teeth with a flat surface. Their purpose is to crush food into pieces small enough so that it can be easily swallowed.
Conditions of the Teeth
Now that we know all about the evolution of the tooth, as well as the parts and types of teeth, let’s talk a bit about teeth conditions. Everyone must adhere to an efficient oral care regimen in order to ensure the health of their teeth. This includes brushing the teeth in the morning and at night for at least 2 minutes at a time with a fluoride-containing toothpaste that is ADA approved. Next, everyone must floss once per day, and rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash. Neglecting to follow these steps on a daily basis can result in conditions such as:
- Cavities – one of the most common conditions are the teeth, cavities, also known as tooth decay, are tiny openings or holes in the teeth that are a result of the decay.
- Gingivitis – this is the first sign of periodontitis and is characterized by gums that are sore and inflamed.
- Periodontitis – the second stage of gum disease, this is a gum infection that is so severe, it can cause extreme damage to the gums and jawbone.
- Plaque – a soft, sticky, bacteria-containing substance that coats the teeth as a result of poor oral hygiene.
- Tartar – This occurs when the plaque is not removed in a timely or efficient manner, and it hardens onto the teeth. This can lead to tooth decay and other more severe dental issues if it is left untreated.
Proper Care of the Teeth to Maintain Longevity
It is vital that everyone knows how to properly care for their teeth, and that they maintain a daily routine of doing so. The best thing to do is to talk to your dental professional to ensure that you know the proper brushing and flossing techniques. He or she can show you how to position the toothbrush for maximum effect, as well as the proper way to floss in order to make sure you are removing all trapped food particles and debris from in between the teeth. Also important is to make sure you visit your dentist every 6 months for a routine cleaning and checkup. This is the best way to identify and prevent any possible issues and to make sure your teeth and gums are as healthy as possible. At Shore Smiles Dental, we offer general, cosmetic, and implant dentistry to meet the needs of all patients. We provide the best possible care in order to provide the service that each patient needs and deserves. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.