Every day, your teeth help you eat, speak, and smile. Yet, most people go throughout their days or lives without giving their teeth much thought. They may consider cosmetic options, or they may go to the dentist if they have problems. So, knowing more about your teeth is not only interesting, but it can also be helpful.
Inside Your Teeth
Your teeth are composed of three layers.
Enamel is the protective outer layer of your teeth. When you smile in the mirror, you can see the enamel–the white part of your teeth above the gum line. Surprisingly, enamel is the hardest substance in your body. It protects the soft, delicate connective tissues and nerves inside your tooth. But, while enamel is strong, it can still receive damage. For example, poor oral hygiene and sugary foods can wear down the enamel. Unfortunately, this can leave your teeth susceptible to tooth decay or gum disease.
Beneath the enamel lies the dentin. Dentin is a layer of hard tissue between the enamel and the pulp. Throughout the dentin, there are small tubes connecting the enamel and pulp. If there is damage to the enamel, the pain can travel through the dentin to the nerves.
The innermost layer of your teeth is the pulp. The pulp houses the nerves and blood vessels that keep your teeth alive. If the pulp gets damaged, the tooth can die and may need extraction. In addition, severe tooth decay and gum disease can affect the pulp.
Types of Teeth
Normally, adults have 32 teeth in their mouths, which includes four wisdom teeth. In fact, there are different types of teeth that look and function differently.
In the front of your mouth, you have eight incisors. These are the sharp, flat teeth at the front of your smile. Incisors have a thin edge made for biting and cutting into food.
Next to the incisors, you have four canine teeth. Canines are sharp, nearly pointed teeth that tear into food. Interestingly, canines get their name because they resemble fangs or dog teeth.
Between the canines and molars, there are eight premolars–or bicuspids. You have four on the top of your jaw and four on the bottom jaw. Additionally, the shape of the premolars combines canines and molars. As a result, they come to a point with ridges that tear and grind food.
Finally, you have 12 molars–six on the top jaw and six on the bottom jaw. Four of these molars are wisdom teeth. Around your late teens or early twenties, wisdom teeth will erupt through your jaw. However, many people need their wisdom teeth extracted. Sometimes the wisdom teeth will cause misalignment in your bite. Additionally, wisdom teeth can become impacted, leading to infection or an abscess. Furthermore, without wisdom teeth, adults have 28 teeth in their mouths.
Molars have a flat surface with tiny ridges. Therefore, this allows them to grind food into small pieces for swallowing.