Teeth Anatomy & Fun Facts You Need to Know!
Think about how you start your day. You get up, look in the mirror, and brush your teeth with a nice crisp tube of toothpaste. Hold it. Why is the toothpaste black and filled with iris flowers, soot, egg shells, and ground ox’s hooves?
If you lived in ancient times, this type of toothpaste would be ordinary. Historical accounts of toothpastes go back to 500 B.C., and the oldest known recipe for toothpaste comes from Ancient Egypt in 400 A.D. While today’s toothpastes have a nice minty taste, ancient toothpastes might have been strange and unusual, and they most likely contradicted what society today considers healthy.
With summer break approaching, finding a “pediatric orthodontist near me” for your child may be low on your to-do list, but did you know that you and your child’s teeth are much more involved in your overall health than what meets the smile?
Teeth break down food into chewable parts. They function as a first line of defense against pathogens, bacteria, and viruses. They start the digestive process by preparing food for its passage into your stomach and intestines. The teeth are amazing organs that are vital to your health and happiness.
The eyes may be the windows to the soul, but the smile is the glamorous curtain framing those windows. So, it’s important to know what your teeth are made of and what they mean for your lifestyle choices.
An Archaeological Trove into Your Teeth
Your teeth tell a story. They say things about where you’ve been, how long you’ve lived, and if you have any health problems. The outside of your teeth may appear solid and nearly impervious, but the innermost layer is teeming with blood vessels, nerves, and soft living materials. Let’s go back to the first set of teeth you were proud to show.
Everyone starts life with a set of “milk teeth,” otherwise known as deciduous teeth or baby teeth. Around the age of six months, baby teeth erupt through the gums. These temporary teeth give permanent teeth the time they need to develop within the jawbone, or the mandible, and gums.
Around the age of six, permanent teeth begin to grow in and replace the baby teeth. There are three primary layers to the anatomy of your teeth, which include the following:
- The enamel is the outermost layer of your teeth. It is hard and white, providing a dense barrier that protects your teeth from the harshest acids and foods. Made of calcium phosphate, enamel is comparable to the materials in rocks.
- Dentin lies beneath the enamel. It is made up of living cells that secrete a hard, mineral-like substance. During formation, dentin begins producing the substance that will become enamel, but this process stops in childhood. So, orthodontics for children is critical during the growing stages of permanent teeth.
- The innermost layer of teeth is the pulp, which is the soft, living interior of the teeth. It contains the blood supply for both the dentin and the surrounding pulp materials. It rests within the pulp cavity, narrowing into the root canal as it descends into the jawbone.
A tooth also consists of three layers that descend into the jawbone. The crown is the “top” layer. The neck is the slender portion that reaches toward the gums, and the root is hidden within the gums.
The root of the tooth splits into two projections that connect to cementum. Cementum is like cement, holding the tooth’s roots into the jawbone. At this point, the periodontal ligament holds the teeth in place against the jawbone, which keeps teeth from moving. When the ligament does not function properly, or if an injury to the tooth occurs during childhood, the position of the tooth may change.
Speaking of an injury, if you ever have a tooth knocked out, place it in a glass of milk. This will help to prevent the living tissues in the tooth from dying. However, if you have braces, you’ll need to see your closest orthodontist as soon as possible.
Besides Chewing, What Do Your Teeth Do?
The primary role of teeth is chewing food. The peaks and valleys of upper and lower teeth are supposed to align perfectly with the opposing tooth’s ridges and impressions to provide a consistent cutting and grinding motion of food between them.
For example, the front teeth, the incisors, are responsible for cutting food into portions small enough to fit in the mouth. Dense, tough foods that cannot be torn by the incisors can be ripped apart by the canines, reports InnerBody. Finally, the premolars and molars perform the most strenuous part of chewing: grinding.
The teeth do much more than just chew your food. They help you make sounds during speech, such as the “s” in “hiss.” Meanwhile, the teeth prevent your cheeks and chin from shrinking. In a sense, they define the middle of your face.
Now, what about keeping the different parts of your teeth healthy?
Why Brushing Your Teeth Is About More Than Just a Healthy Smile
The teeth are a breeding ground for bacteria. Up to 100,000,000 microscopic organisms, including bacteria, viruses, and pathogens can be lurking on your teeth on any day. These creatures are feeding on the pieces of food that you didn’t swallow. They process foods and leave their waste products on your teeth, and if you have received orthodontic procedures to straighten your teeth, your mouth has even more places for these creatures to live.
Swimming around in the saliva of your mouth, these organisms can do some serious damage to your smile and teeth. Considering that your mouth produces more than one quart of saliva every day, think about how many of these creatures you end up swallowing. If it sounds gross, it is because it is. That’s why proper dental hygiene is so important. Despite this information, brushing and flossing hasn’t always been as popular as you might think.
- The military required soldiers to brush their teeth twice daily, and these soldiers brought the habit home after war. When you think about it, you might owe your brushing habits to your grandfather or great grandfather!
- White, clean teeth were considered ugly in medieval Japan. Women would use roots and inks to stain their teeth, so brushing might have been off the table.
- Toothpaste has been around for centuries, but Colgate didn’t produce the first commercially available toothpaste until 1882!
- One of the most famous tooth legends might be the “Tooth Fairy,” but the owner of one of Sir Issac Newton’s teeth might have had other plans. One of Sir Issac Newton’s teeth was sold in London in 1816 for what amounts to more than $37,000 in today’s money. That’s like buying a new car or paying for college!
- In America, children who put their lost teeth under the pillow typically receive around $3 per tooth from the “Tooth Fairy.”
What Else Do You Need to Know About Keeping Your Teeth Healthy?
Every set of teeth is unique, but your teeth are not all identical either. You have four types of teeth including incisors (the teeth in the front of your mouth), canines (the fanglike teeth on the sides of the incisors), premolars, and molars.
Most adults have eight incisors, four canines, eight premolars, and eight molars. A third set of molars, the Wisdom Teeth, develop and erupt around age 18. However, these teeth may cause the others to become misaligned or damaged. If not removed, you may need to consider working with a dentist that understands and provides services for family or kids orthodontics. Because of this risk, most adults have their Wisdom Teeth extracted.
The final step to understanding the anatomy and health of your teeth is simple. Just like you need an annual physical with your medical doctor, follow up with your dentist or pediatric orthodontist every year.
Remember to brush and floss your teeth twice daily, but this does not include brushing and flossing after meals. If you do not properly clean your teeth, plaque builds up, and if not removed through dental hygiene within a few days, it hardens into mineral-like tartar. At this point, only a dentist can remove the substance, which can be a harbinger of bacteria and cause major health issues.
Know Your Teeth. Protect Your Teeth. Get Your Teeth Checked
Once your permanent teeth grow in, you do not get another set. From the root to the crown, your teeth are the pride of your smile and require some attention. If you develop teeth problems, such as cavities, they may decay rapidly, and problems with your teeth can be highly painful.
Protect your teeth because you use them every day to chew, speak, smile, and more. In fact, it may be time to see if your teeth need to be checked for alignment. With extended hours and four available locations, Labbe Family Orthodontics is your go-to solution for a shining, healthy, and beautiful smile. Schedule a complimentary consultation online or call 1 (443) 603-3448 today.
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