Teeth are an important part of our body, vital for eating the correct food and also useful in communication. Aside from our baby teeth, or milk teeth, we only have one set of teeth to last us a lifetime, so it’s important that we take care of them.
Teeth begin to develop as soon as babies are born, but they don’t often begin to come through until around the age of 6 months old. Through a process known as teething, the teeth will begin to grow through the gums until around three years old, when most babies will have a full set of 20 milk teeth.
Milk teeth will begin to fall at around five years old, making way for adult teeth. By the age of 12, most of these adult teeth will have grown into place, giving children a set of 28 teeth. A full set of adult teeth contains 32 teeth, but the final four may not grow through until the age of 21, if at all. These final four molars are known as wisdom teeth and commonly require removal due to a lack of space in the modern adult mouth.
Different parts of the tooth
There are a number of parts contained in each tooth, and all of these parts are made from slightly different substances. The section of the tooth present above the gum line is known as the crown. This section is covered in enamel, which is the hardest substance in the body and provides protection to the sensitive inside of the tooth.
Underneath the crown lies dentine, a sensitive part that runs down through most of the tooth. This is in place to protect the most sensitive part, the pulp. Containing the blood supply and nerve endings, the pulp is the substance that keeps the tooth alive and sends messages to the brain during eating or drinking. The pulp also runs into the root, which is the final part of the tooth.
Covered with cementum, the root of the tooth is combined with periodontal fibres and connects the tooth to the jawbone to hold it in place.
Types of teeth
There are four types of teeth inside the mouth, each of which has a different purpose. The first of these are the incisors. Located at the front of your mouth, you have four incisors on the top jaw and four on the bottom. These teeth are used for cutting and chopping food.
The second type of teeth are the canines. These are located next to the incisors, with one each side on each jaw, and they are designed to be sharp and pointy. These teeth are used to tear food, such as meat and other tough ingredients.
Premolars are also known as bicuspids and they are located next to your canines. There are eight in total, with four on the top jaw and four on the bottom. These teeth are larger that both incisors and canines, and they are designed for crushing and grinding food.
Finally, the molars are located in the back of each jaw. There are eight in total, although this is without the wisdom teeth, which make up the final four teeth. Molars are the strongest teeth in your mouth and they work to help you mash food and swallow safely.