How many teeth do you have? The answer varies depending on your age and dental history. When you’re a kid, you only have 20 teeth. But as an adult, you have up to 32 (or 28 if you get your wisdom teeth removed).
That’s a lot of teeth. And since you only get one set of permanent teeth in your lifetime, you need to take care of them!
By understanding the anatomy of your teeth, you can better understand how to take care of them. Today, we’re explaining the structure of your smile:
The Different Types of Teeth
Your teeth evolved to be strong for one purpose: To help you chew food! Eating is an essential part of life, and without your teeth, you’d have a hard time breaking down the foods you need to survive.
You’ve probably noticed that not all your teeth are the same shape or size. That’s because your smile is made up of different types of teeth, each with a slightly different function. They are as follows:
- Incisors. On your upper and lower jaw, you have four incisor teeth each; two are central incisors, and two are lateral incisors. These are also known as your front teeth! They have a chiseled shape to help you cut up your food.
- Canines. Beside your lateral incisors are your canine teeth. You have four canine teeth in your mouth, which have a pointed shape to help you tear tougher foods.
- Premolars. Also known as bicuspid teeth, there are four premolars on each jaw. Premolars have a unique shape; they have two points per tooth to help you break down food.
- Molars. Of all your teeth, your molars have the largest surface area. They handle the bulk of chewing food. You have six molars on each jaw, for a total of 12! And yes, that includes your wisdom teeth (which are also called your third molars).
And there you have it: All 32 teeth in your mouth!
The Structure of a Tooth
Now that you know what each type of tooth in your mouth does, we’ll dive into the anatomy of each tooth.
Here’s what’s inside each tooth, from the visible outer layer to the inner chambers:
This is the white part you can see when you smile; it’s the most visible part of your tooth. But that means the crown is exposed to everything you eat or drink. So you need to keep the outside of your teeth clean every day to prevent cavities!
The crown is made up of:
- Enamel. This incredibly durable layer of your tooth protects everything inside it. It holds up against the chewing forces of your jaw as you break down food.
- Anatomical crown. This is the part of your tooth that sits above your gum line. The crown is typically covered by enamel.
The inner layers consists of:
- Dentin. This layer is softer than the enamel but serves a similar function. If your enamel is damaged or worn away, the dentin is exposed. It’s more sensitive than the enamel due to its dentin tubules; when hot or cold foods/drinks affect these paths, you’ll feel some discomfort.
- Pulp chamber. Just below the dentin is the pulp chamber (or pulp cavity), which houses the soft and sensitive tissues of your tooth. It’s the small space inside the crown of your tooth.
- Pulp. The pulp consists of soft tissue, including blood vessels (which supply your teeth with nutrients and blood), nerve tissues (which sense temperatures), and small lymph vessels (which fight off bacteria with white blood cells).
Root and periodontium
Finally, there are the roots of your teeth, which connect your teeth to your jaw bone. The root contains:
- Root canal. This is the space within your tooth where the pulp resides; it’s like a passageway between the pulp chamber and the roots. If bacteria enter this part of the tooth, you could develop a root canal infection.
- Cementum. This layer of connective tissue is hard like bone. It surrounds the root surface of teeth and connects directly to the jawbone with periodontal ligament.
- Periodontal ligament. This ligament anchors your tooth to your jaw. It does this through many bundles of connective tissues, which join the cementum to the alveolar bone. The periodontal ligament helps your teeth hold up against the chewing forces of your jaw.
- Alveolar bone. Also known as the jaw bone, this part is where the roots of your tooth are secured in place. It also houses the tooth socket.
- Gums. This pink soft tissue protects the neck section of your teeth. It also covers and protects the alveolar bone and roots of teeth.
Common Teeth Conditions
Given all the different layers and tissues that make up a tooth, it’s no wonder why dentists are so important! Your teeth rely on each part of their anatomy to stay healthy and strong. If one part becomes damaged or infected, you may experience pain, difficulty chewing, or sensitivity.
The most common problems we see with teeth include:
- Cavities. When acid and bacteria erode your tooth enamel, you’re left with a small hole, which is called a cavity. Get a dental filling to fix the problem, or the decay will spread and expose the inner layers of your tooth.
- Root canal infections. If bacteria reach the pulp chamber, they can create an infection in the tissue.
- Gum disease (periodontal disease). An infection of the gum tissue caused by poor oral health and smoking.
- Bruxism (teeth grinding). If you grind or clench your teeth, it can damage the structure, causing your teeth to become worn down, chipped, or cracked.
How To Keep Your Teeth Healthy
Looking after 32 teeth is a lot of work. But you don’t have to go at it alone. At Dental House, we’ll connect you with a Saskatoon dentist who can help you fight off tooth decay and keep your smile healthy.
Come in for a cleaning, filling, or teeth whitening treatment; whatever your smile goals are, we’ll be happy to help you achieve them. Book your appointment today!