Teeth are fascinating and can give an insight into our genetics and how we live our lives. And just as we rely on support around us, teeth also need strong and healthy foundations to function in the best possible way. But how much do you really know about your teeth?
Teeth can grow in all different ways. Tooth development is a complex process as they form, grow and erupt into our mouths. From around the age of six years, most of us start getting our adult teeth. Ideally, these permanent teeth last our entire adult years. During tooth development, our teeth can grow in the wrong direction, coming out sideways, at a wrong angle, or only partially erupt, this is known as an impacted tooth.
Our teeth grow in three stages. First, they form under our gums, then they develop the crown – the white part we can see. Finally, the root develops, which anchors our teeth to our jaw.
We get two sets of teeth. During our lifetime, humans have 20 baby teeth and (usually) 32 permanent or adult teeth. Some people have extra teeth or teeth that never develop. Genetics plays a role in missing teeth and the shape and size of our teeth as well.
Our four different kinds of teeth have unique functions. Humans are omnivores, meaning we eat both meat and plants. Over time, we have evolved to have four different types of teeth which allow us to eat a varied diet. Incisors – the front teeth, Canines – the eye teeth, Premolars and Molars. Each of our teeth serves a different purpose. Front teeth slice or cut food into smaller pieces before being transferred to the back teeth to be ground down into even smaller particles. These small particles of food mix with the enzymes in our saliva to begin digestion.
Your teeth can tell stories about you. Teeth can reveal a lot about how we live our lives. Teeth can tell personal facts about you like your age, the quality of your diet and importantly your oral hygiene. Teeth can also reflect health conditions a person may be experiencing.
Enamel, the hard, outer white layer of our teeth is the only part of the human body which can’t repair itself. Rather than living tissues like the dentine inside our teeth, skin and bones, enamel is made from a mineral substance which cannot be regenerated. The only way to repair the damage is by filling or covering the tooth enamel and dentine.
Only 2/3 of our teeth can be seen, the other 1/3 is hidden by the gums, so gum health is as important as tooth health. Bacteria feed on food and plaque left on our teeth and tartar forms if plaque is not regularly removed.