Have you ever had the desire to learn more about what’s happening in your mouth? We’re specifically talking about the 32 residents that help us to eat, and oh so much more. Our teeth are an important part of our bodies as they not only aid in the digestive process, but also make it possible for us to speak clearly. Here’s a closer look at how they work and what they do!
What’s in Your Mouth?
A typical adult has 32 teeth, including wisdom teeth. The breakdown of teeth in our mouths includes, from front to back: 8 incisors, 4 canines, 8 premolars, and 12 molars. Here is more information about the various types of teeth:
- Incisors: Incisors are the teeth located in the front of your mouth. The tips of our incisors are flat, which enables them to help us cut up food; i.e. take bites of our food.
- Canines: Canines are our pointy teeth; they’re also known by cuspid or eye tooth. They are useful for tearing and holding food, and are located behind or beside the incisors.
- Premolars: Premolars are also known as bicuspids and are used for chewing and grinding food. A typical adult has 4 premolars on each side of the mouth, two on the upper and two on the lower side of the jaw.
- Molars: The primary function of molars is to chew and grind food. They are the teeth located in the back of our mouths and have multiple bumps at the tips to help grind and chew your food. Because they are located in the deep corners of our mouths, they’re often overlooked when brushing. Additionally, they’re replaced by our 8 permanent premolars.
Parts of a Tooth
Each of our teeth features three main parts: the crown, the neck, and the root. Within each of these main parts, there are additional smaller pieces that make them up.
- Crown: The crown is the visible part of the tooth that sticks out of the gums. The crown has three parts: the anatomical crown, enamel, and dentin. The anatomical crown is covered by enamel and is able to be seen. The enamel is typically considered to be part of the anatomical crown, and is the hardest part of the tooth. This is the part of the tooth that protects the crown from bacteria. Dentin is located beneath the enamel and influences tooth sensitivity, as it protects our teeth from foods that stimulate the nerves and cells inside our teeth.
- Neck: The neck is the part of the tooth found at the gum line and located between the crown and the root. Parts of the neck include: the gums, pulp, and pulp cavity. Gums, or gingiva, are the fleshy, pink connective tissue that surrounds our teeth and connects to the neck. The pulp is in the center of the tooth, or the innermost portion of the tooth, and is soft tissue that holds nerves and blood vessels. The pulp cavity is where the pulp is stored.
- Root: The root is the base of the tooth that keeps the teeth planted in our gums, and keeps teeth connected to tooth sockets. The root is made up of: the root canal, cementum, periodontal ligament, nerves, blood vessels, and the jawbone. The root canal is where the pulp cavity extends into the root. Cementum is the hard tissue that covers the root. The periodontal ligament is connected to the cementum, and connects the tooth to the tooth socket. It also contains nerves and blood vessels. The nerves help us to process information that our bodies are sending us. More specifically, this might mean helping us feel pain to control how hard we chew. Blood vessels deliver nutrients to our teeth.
When you have a better understanding of the anatomy of your teeth, not only can you more clearly describe what’s happening in your mouth, but you can also more effectively comprehend what your dentist is sharing with you after an evaluation. This knowledge can help you to have a more comfortable conversation with your dentist and help you to better explain what you might be noticing in your own mouth. As always, we encourage you to contact us with any questions!