The human mouth is a marvel. From watching certain detective movies or shows, you probably are also aware of the fact that our mouths and the teeth therein are unique to every one of us.
Take identical twins for example; as the title suggests they are challenging to tell apart to say the very least. But not for a dentist. He or she can take a look at their teeth and identify who they are looking at with incredible precision.
Wow! That means that all seven and a half billion people on the planet have a distinctive set of choppers. Nature has to be creative to pull that off. So, when you next smile at someone you like, you can be confident that you are sending off something that is totally you without even uttering a word.
Of course, all of that is the romantic side of things, or let’s say, the less scientific way of looking at these highly complex human tools. Or should we say organs? As you will learn while reading this article, a tooth is an individual organ like for example the heart or the lungs. No wonder we have to look after them so well. What happens in your mouth can affect your entire body. Going to a dentist is expensive so do make sure you have at least a great dental insurance plan just in case.
Before we dive right in, let us start with a small tour of our mouth.
What does it do, how does it work and back to the central question: what are teeth exactly. After that, we will progress to the different types of teeth and conclude with some vital information on teeth and what to look out for.
It is marvelous to be aware of all there is to know about these small wonders, but make sure you are doing your very best to keep them in tiptop shape is even more important.
The average adult usually has 32 teeth, if the four wisdom teeth (the ones your dentist loves to remove) are counted.
A full set of teeth is broken down into individual groups, such as incisors, canines, and molars. The molars are divided into premolars (right and left, on the upper and lower jaws) and in molars (also left and right, upper and lower jaws) and one wisdom tooth on each level.
There are a big molar and the little molar that are permanent, large, and multi-humped in shape.
Overall, the oral cavity resembles a small chemical plant: Take a wandering piece of roasted turkey at Thanksgiving for example. So, what happens to it after this succulent morsel passes over the lips? We start to chew, right.
We grind the teeth until ideally everything is cut into short and small pieces. A little hint – chew for it can make all the difference when countering obesity, heartburn and digestive issues.
All the while your salivary glands are adding their juice – An interesting fact along the way: In one day, the glands produce on average 34 fluid ounces of saliva. In conjunction with your teeth, this body secretion turns food into a pulpy mass in preparation for ingestion.
In tandem, the tongue explores the most diverse taste molecules with its hundreds of taste buds – Yummy. Like a foreman on a plant, it then distributes the material to the molars and eventually pushes the food mush into the esophagus.
Hey presto, we just turned the Thanksgiving turkey into a pulpy mush. Sorry about that. If it wouldn’t taste so good, you might be put off right now.
As already mentioned in the introductory words, the mouth and teeth reveal much about the condition of the entire human organism. In other words, are you healthy or not. Many pathological processes are reflected in the oral cavity.
For example, a white coating on the tongue may indicate a disturbed immune system, and hormonal fluctuations can lead to over-sensitive gums. Therefore, a good dentist examines not only the condition of the teeth but always the entire oral cavity to be certain you are doing okay.
Now let’s take a look at the tooth and what function it has.
In comparison to other organs, a tooth is something very simple – though, this only on the surface. On closer inspection, however, it turns out that it is cleverly set up for its work and forms a part of a perfect system in which teeth, jawbones, gums, tongue, palate and mucous membranes interact in perfect harmony.
A healthy tooth is an individual living organ that has a great deal to do in the course of its life: mincing piles of different solid foods, resisting acids and repelling attacks from pathogens to name a few. The forces a tooth has to withstand lie between 150 and 800 Newton. That corresponds to a weight of 15 to 80 kilograms.
Consequently, your teeth are made of the hardest substances of the human organism. Ideally, they stand side by side without gaps; the row of teeth on the upper jaw forms an ellipse, and that of the lower jaw a parabola.
Jump to this section here: Tooth Growth & Development
Disruptions to the system alert us immediately: a toothache is one of the most unpleasant things that your nerves have to convey to warn you that something is amiss. Others, such as halitosis and digestive problems, and the spread of throat infections into the bloodstream: all of these can be related to dental issues.
The oral cavity is a critical ‘interface’ between humans and their environment: as well as any amount of pathogens; it absorbs food. Viruses, bacteria, unicellular organisms of all kinds and are hopefully dominated by the body’s immune defense that resides in the mouth.
However, it does tend to have problems dealing with the “Streptococcus mutans” – this bad boy carries pathogens and is the major contributor to tooth decay. Only good dental hygiene and regular visits to the dentist can keep it at bay. So, be aware of it because you definitely do not want caries.
How To Keep Them White
If you want a beautiful smile you will need to take care of your teeth. Brushing twice a day as well as flossing every day is one of the best ways to keep your teeth healthy, fresh, and shiny. But sometimes, we just want to speed things up and there are a few teeth whitening products that can speed things up but make sure to do your research first. It’s suggested that you visit your dentists and read multiple teeth whitening kit reviews before making the final decision.
You can find a much more in-depth overview of teeth whitening kits by reading this first.
- The crown
- The cervical
- The tooth root
The tooth crown protrudes into the oral cavity; the tooth root lies within the bone compartment in the jawbone. The periodontal membrane in the bone compartment attaches to it.
Crown and roots are all different in the individual teeth. The tooth root is usually twice as long as the tooth crown. Between tooth crown and tooth root lies the tooth neck.
Inside the tooth, itself resides the medullary cavity with the tissue, called dental pulp by dentists. It corresponds to what is colloquially referred to as a nerve.
The dental cavity narrows to the root tip of the so-called root canal. This is the area where you will find all the nerves and blood vessels.
The material of the teeth consists of three hard substances:
- Dentin (dentin)
And from the soft tissues
- Dental pulp
- Periodontal ligament
See a detailed explanation on: What are the parts of a tooth?
Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body: so-called apatite crystals. These crystals consist mainly of calcium and phosphorus. This coating can withstand the harshest mechanical loads.
However, it reacts relatively sensitively to acids such as citric acid, acetic acid or tartaric acid – such as the lime in the bathtub. The resistance of the enamel depends, among other things, on how much fluoride it contains: the more fluoride it has, the fewer acids can affect it.
Under the enamel lies the dentin. It forms the main mass of the tooth and encloses the dental pulp, the medullary cavity, and the root canal. The dentin is not as hard as the enamel, but harder than bone.
The dentin is traversed by a variety of narrow canals. They conduct stimuli from outside to inside, so those of you people with sensitive tooth necks may find it unpleasant. In these tubes, nerve cells extend from the marrow cavity. They respond to temperature differences and can, therefore, cause pain.
The pulp supplies the tooth with its blood vessels and nerve fibers. Through the root tip hole, the flesh of each tooth communicates with the upper and lower jaw nerves. Because the pulp is exposed to constant provocations such as heat, cold and pressure, it can regress more and more in the course of life.
Those of you who not only want to have yellowy teeth but also want to make their gums look old quickly should smoke a lot
Ignore the sarcasm; just a small reminder of what smoking can do to your teeth over time.
This promotes inflammation, allows the gums to disappear and also shortens the life of inlays, bridges, and crowns or even implants. So, stay healthy and look after yourself and you can hope that with proper dental care and prevention techniques, a bright smile will be a constant and that over the long term, you will save a few Dollars on dentures.
What are Molars?
In addition to incisors and canines, the molars also belong to the dentition. They also bear the name posterior teeth and are divided into two groups. These are the premolars or premolars (Dentes premolars / more detail on those later) as well as the molars or posterior molars (Dentes molars). Their structure and functions differ from the other teeth.
The primary function is to break the food further, and three molars (posterior molars, molars) are there to grind plant foods such as fruits or grains.
While the mandibular molars have only one and the molars two roots, the corresponding teeth in the upper jaw have in part two, three or more roots.
The farthest teeth (the third molars) are the so-called wisdom teeth (eights), which often break through the gums in early adulthood. Usually, they have to be pulled out when there is not enough space on the jaw, and they crowd in on the other teeth.
Unfortunately, the wisdom teeth often have hooked or overgrown roots, which often make pulling them a bloody and challenging procedure.
There are many differences in the shape, size, and color of the teeth, but these are completely normal and no cause for concern.
What are Premolars?
Moving on, in the oral cavity, the premolars are the frontal molars, which are significantly slimmer than the neighboring molars, because they are placed directly behind the canine teeth.
The premolars normally have a chewing surface with two humps; the second lower premolar can also have three protrusions.
Regarding structure and function
What are Canine Teeth?
Looking at our closest relative in the realm of mammals, human canines are very different from those of primates where they are significantly elongated, especially those belonging to the male creatures. They are even more pronounced in the upper jaw than in the lower jaw.
The main function of long canines was to make threatening gestures possible in the animal kingdom.
The small digression was to explain their pointed shape better. You could also think of a vampire – they use them to scare and suck blood. The canine tooth has the longest root.
Today, it is assumed that the canines in the crown area have shortened considerably. Our present canines are becoming more and more similar to the incisors and are no longer a big difference to them.
These teeth are located in both jaw halves. They are at the junction between the incisor and the posterior teeth. So they not only visually form a flowing transition, but also in their function. Therefore, the canine is equipped with two short cutting sides.
They are made for holding and tearing food. However, as this is no longer necessary due to the use of tools and food preparation, they are gradually regressing over time.
What are Incisors?
The four teeth in the lower or upper jaw are referred to as incisors (Dens incisivus). They are located between the canines and have a sharp cutting edge or a scoop-like shape. Incisors have no occlusal surface, and the lower incisors are smaller than the upper ones
Anatomy & Structure
The incisor is a so-called anterior tooth and can be found in the frontal jaw area. At about the age of one, the eight incisors are replaced by permanent teeth.
In adolescents, the incisal edge is divided by two incisions, while in adult humans these are usually ground down.
The tooth crown has two marginal ridges on the back, which meet in the so-called tuberculum, a structure that has the shape of a hump. Above is the foramen caecum. In the lower or upper jaw, the following incisors can be distinguished: middle lower incisor, lower lateral incisor, upper central incisor, and upper lateral maxillary.
The central incisors have three notches; the lateral over two and in the canine area one notch is recognizable. Over time, however, tooth wear and tooth erosion causes wear of the incisal edge. In turn, this creates a uniform cutting edge.
The roots of the incisors are relatively weak. The lower incisors represent the smallest teeth in our mouth. Their labial surfaces are smooth and have a basic triangular shape. The necks are pointed and narrow. The lingual surfaces are also triangular, but a little thinner. The approximal surfaces have the form of an acute-angled triangle, and the curvature feature is recognizable on the contour.
The lower incisors are also very gracefully built and therefore cannot be considered for any crown replacement. Also, the crown base is quite narrow, so it is not possible to grind the teeth without being thin. For aesthetic reasons, they are also unsuitable as staple teeth
Function & Tasks
Since the incisors have a sharp cutting edge, they are needed for biting off food. So they work as a small knife and have no chewing surface. The basis for optimum cutting quality is a smooth contour of the cutting edges, which however can be lost due to the aging process.
Also, the incisors also have an optical significance, as they belong to the anterior teeth. If they are discolored, crooked or broken off, it is unaesthetic and unattractive. Regarding aesthetics, the middle upper incisors dominate because of their size and are also very visible when smiling and speaking.
Now that we know some more about the oral cavity and the different types of teeth that reside therein, it is time to take a look at what impacts a healthy set. Read on to get a better idea what factors influence our overall health and ultimately the
Teeth Do Not Like Acid Attacks
Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence in our mouths and often not noticed until it is too late. Unlike caries, acid attacks do not occur through bacterial processes but through the consumption of acidic substances such as fruit juices, and certain medication such as Aspirin.
Also, vomiting has an adverse effect, as the pH value is one as opposed to the healthy seven pH in the oral cavity.
Do your best to fight the gradual flattening of your tooth surface that is a typical sign of erosion by:
- Regularly going to the dentist.
- Not brushing your teeth directly after meals – wait about thirty minutes as the toothbrush can harm the sensitive enamel caused by the food and drink.
- Reducing your intake of soft drinks, alcohol, vitamin C tablets, Aspirin and foods that contain acids such as fruit and veg.
- Chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production to protect the teeth.
- Drink and rinse with water. Good hydration is the precursor for a moist oral cavity.
- Brushing your teeth! Always use an electric toothbrush to get rid of all the germs.
- Floss! Flossing is just as important as brushing. You can use the best water flosser or do it manually.
Pressure And Tension Can Shift Teeth
Healthy teeth are firm and immovable. In reality, however, they are anything but rigidly wedged in the jaw. They can be gradually displaced by pressure and tension – which, for example, makes it possible to correct misalignments with braces or braces.
The tooth bed, also called the periodontium, provides the flexible but relatively high strength in this area. The tooth root is attached to the jaw via the periodontal membrane. Thousands of fibers provide a firm bond between the tooth and the surrounding jawbone.
An adult can lift 80 kilograms using teeth and jaws. The largest weight, which was previously supported with an intact dentition, was even more than 280 kilograms – wow.
The gum covers the jawbone and usually sits snugly around the neck of the tooth. Healthy gums are firm and often pale pink in color. It has a slightly porous surface, similar to the skin of an orange. Tapered gum papillae fill the interdental spaces.
When the gums are healthy, they do not bleed when brushing. And if it bleeds, that’s a warning signal. Anyone who has bleeding and inflamed gums for more than ten days should go to the dentist.
Saliva Heals Wounds And Tooth Damage
Saliva has many tasks. It facilitates chewing and swallowing and allows food to taste good. It keeps the oral mucosa moist and prevents inflammation. If pathogens have penetrated the oral cavity, the saliva has an antibacterial effect: the microbes cannot reproduce well, and wounds heal faster.
Also, spit cleanses the teeth and can even repair minor damage to their surface.
The large salivary glands of the oral cavity and the numerous small salivary glands of the oral mucosa produce 34 fluid ounces of saliva on a daily basis. The fluid consists of 99 percent water and contains various proteins, defense substances, hormones and trace elements.
Added to this are dissolved mineral salts such as calcium, sodium, magnesium, phosphate, and fluoride. They make the tooth enamel hard and strengthen its resistance to acid attacks.
The Bacteria In The Mouth Loves The Sweet Stuff
Eating carbohydrates, such as sugar or starch in potatoes, bread or pasta, produce acid. This is because starch and sweets like to feast upon those bacteria that make up the healthy oral flora.
The microbes utilize the sugars contained in the food and reduce it to acid. This can cause tooth decay because the acid attacks the tooth surface and deprives it of minerals.
Fruit juices and acidic foods also attack the tooth surface. Saliva dilutes and neutralizes such aggressive acids. In the case of caries in the early stages, dissolved minerals from the saliva accumulate on the slightly damaged areas, so that the surface is closed and hardened again.
Those people that produce too little saliva, noticeable in a dry mouth, for example, should stimulate salivation by regularly chewing sugar-free chewing gum. Chewing gum, however, cannot replace brushing.
During sleep, only small amounts of saliva are produced. That’s why it’s so essential you stop eating sugary foods after having brushed your teeth in the evening.
The mouth and teeth are a fascinating part of the human body. Although seemingly simple, there is much to be aware of, and now you are armed with a few of the necessary tips and tricks to keep your mouth in tiptop shape.