Tooth Anatomy – An Overview of Teeth
Teeth are the hardest components in the human body. They serve many purposes, besides being essential for chewing food. They work along with the tongue to form words to speak. Teeth vary greatly in size, shape, function and location.
Teeth begin to develop before a baby’s birth. A baby’s first teeth begin to come through the gums between the ages of 6 months and one year old. Most children acquire 20 primary teeth by the age of three.
The primary teeth fall out between the ages of five to six. They are thus replaced by 28 permanent teeth by the age of 14. Four more teeth develop around the age of 20. These teeth are called wisdom teeth, situated at the back of the mouth.
Parts of a Tooth
Crown – This is the top part of the tooth that you can normally see. The shape determines the function of the tooth. For instance, front teeth are chisel shaped and sharp helpful in cutting, while molars are flat shaped helpful for grinding.
Gumline – The part where the tooth and the gums meet. Without proper brushing and flossing, tartar and plaque builds up on the gumline, leading to gum diseases and gingivitis.
Root – This is the part where the bone is embedded. Root nearly makes 2/3rds of the complete tooth and holds tooth in its position.
Enamel – This is the outermost layer of the tooth and is the hardest tissue in the body. Without proper dental care, it can be damaged by decay.
Dentin – This is the tooth layer under the enamel. If decay progresses in its way to enamel, it then attacks the dentin, where in millions of small tubes lead directly to dental pulp.
Dental Pulp – This is the soft tissue located in the center of the tooth, where the blood vessels and nerve tissues are present. One can feel actual dental pain when the tooth decay reaches this pulp.
Types of Teeth
Different types of teeth serve different functions related to eating. Adults have 28 functional teeth and possibly 4 wisdom teeth, which show no function in some people.
Incisors – The front teeth (four upper and four lower) are called incisors. They are sharp, chisel-shaped used for cutting or biting food into pieces.
Canines – They are also called cuspids, located next to the incisors. There are four canines (two upper and two lower) they are sharp and pointed, therefore used for cutting food.
Premolars – The first and second premolars are located next to the incisors. There are eight premolars (four upper and four lower). These are also called bicuspids as they have pointed cusps on their biting surface. These are useful for crushing and grinding food.
Molars – Like premolars, the first and second molars are located at the back of the mouth. There are eight molars (four upper and four lower). Molars are stronger and wider when compared to the premolars. They have more cusps for grinding and chewing food.
Wisdom Teeth – These are the third and final set of molars. Some people may not develop a full set of wisdom teeth and some other may not develop at all. They are often surgically removed to prevent displacement of other teeth.