Tooth Morphology and Development

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Did you know that the first process of food digestion occurs in the mouth? The first mechanical digestion stage occurs as food is chewed down by teeth, coupled with chemical digestion by salivary enzymes, and the masticated food then proceeds to the gastrointestinal tract for further digestion. Herein, we will be talking about Dentistry Basics, from tooth types down to their respective functions. Before that however, it would be helpful if we first talk about the underlying tooth anatomy.

Dentistry practice studentWhat Is a Tooth Made Of?

A tooth has three primary structures. These are:

(1) the enamel – hard, mineralized covering of the tooth
(2) the cementum – covers the root of the tooth and helps stabilize tooth anchorage
(3) the dentine – consists majority of the a tooth and it has a protective function; susceptible to cavities and decay
(4) the pulp – core of the tooth, containing nerves and blood vessels

Altogether, these structures make up the specific anatomical regions of a tooth. Specifically, the crown and the root are the two basic anatomical parts of the tooth which serve specific functions. The root is the part embedded under the gums which serve as an anchor to the tooth socket of the jaw. Conversely, the crown is the visible part which is covered with enamel and is subject to wear and tear. The crown and the root usually varies in shape and number respectively, depending on the type of tooth it comprises.

There Are Different Types of Teeth. Humans in general, have four types, and these are classified in accordance with their respective functions.

Types of Teeth

(1) the Incisors – these are the front teeth (four on the upper jaw and four on the lower jaw) which usually takes the first bite of food and these are also those we see whenever we smile.
(2) the Canines – these are two pairs of sharp teeth and it primarily functions to tear food (especially the ones that are difficult to chew)
(3) the Premolars – found at the each side of the mouth and helps further masticate food
(4) the Molars – act as reserves in any case that a premolar is lost; usually hard to reach when brushing.

These types of teeth appear at different stages of human development. Some of these appear during infancy and slowly but surely, the others follow as a person grows and develops and this explains why the numbers vary in a person’s lifetime.

Adult healthy teethThe Number of Teeth Varies as You Develop

Commonly, adult humans have more teeth than children, having 32 permanent teeth in a set. This set consists of 12 molars (along with four wisdom teeth), eight premolars, four canines and eight incisors. In contrast, children have a set of teeth consisting of 20 baby teeth, which eventually fall out and gets replaced as they grow. However, it should be noted that proper dental care is needed regardless if these are permanent or deciduous.

Final Thoughts

Proper dental care is essential to maximize the functionality of our teeth. Besides its aesthetic value, teeth also serve as the primary mechanical digesters which help us break down food for our body to process. A tooth has several structures which altogether, forms the two major parts of a tooth, which vary in shape and size. These variations all lead to a person having different types of teeth which serve different roles in chewing. While precursors of these types are present during childhood, completion usually does not occur until puberty, where a full set of 32 teeth from each type are present.