All About Your Teeth

Here’s a riddle: lose me once, and I’ll come back stronger. Lose me twice, and I’ll be lost forever. What am I?

Your teeth!

Every day, we go through our lives and our routines, barely thinking of our teeth unless we feel there’s something between them. We use them, and we clean them all the time. How much do we really know about them?

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Your Teeth Have Layers

The first layer that you can see with your eyes is the enamel. When you show your teeth, the enamel is the whitish layer on the outside. Interestingly, the enamel is the hardest tissue in your entire body.

Your enamel plays an incredibly important role in the health of your teeth. In fact, it is a protective layer that surrounds your entire tooth, preventing decay. The enamel protects your teeth from bacteria and other harmful substances.

Underneath the enamel, there is a portion known as dentin. The dentin is a layer of hard tissue that contains small little tubes or tubules. These tubes connect the enamel to the innermost part of your tooth. When you use your teeth to eat, speak, drink, etc., information is passed from your enamel to the nerves through the dentin. As a result, if you have damaged enamel, temperatures pass through the tubules, causing pain.

The final layer of your tooth is the pulp. It is the portion of your tooth that is “alive.” Additionally, if your pulp becomes damaged, it could cause serious dental problems, such as a root canal or tooth extraction. Within the pulp, there are nerves, connective tissues, and blood vessels.

They Have Jobs

You have four different types of teeth that all have different responsibilities.

In the very front of your mouth, you have eight total incisors—four on the top and on the bottom. These teeth are flat with a thin edge at the bottom. With the sharp edge, you use these teeth to bite and slice into food, making them smaller.

Next to your incisors, you have the canines. You only have four canines. These teeth get their names because they look like fangs. However, dentists may also call them “cuspids.” Canines are long and come to a point. When eating, canines tear into your food.

Between the canines and molars, you have premolars. You have eight of these teeth that have ridges and points to help you chew and grind food.

Finally, you have molars in the back of your mouth. Generally, you have 12 adult molars, but it is likely that your dentist will need to remove the third set of molars—wisdom teeth. Your molars are flat with ridges that grind food into smaller pieces.

Common Teeth Issues

The reason we must clean our teeth daily is because of plaque. This is a form of harmful bacteria that lives in your mouth. If you don’t remove plaque, it can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums. After several days, plaque will cement into tartar. Unfortunately, you cannot remove tartar alone; you must seek professional treatment.

Plaque and tartar can cause tooth decay and gum disease.