Our teeth are structured so marvelously to perform their role in our lives if you think about it. A closer look would show us how every detail and tooth is essential for a human being to function at 100% capacity. This is why we need to care for our teeth and gums the same way we care about our physical health and appearance, no matter how immaterial it may seem.
As we know, knowledge is the first step to action. No matter how often our parents and our dentists tell us to practice a dental health care routine because it is essential, our compliance would probably hinge on their explanation of why it is necessary. In much the same way, we can care for our teeth better once we know their structure and the many roles it has to play. Moreover, conditions like gingivitis and periodontitis, and other dental and oral diseases become easier to understand and therefore prevent with such knowledge. The more we know about our teeth, the better we can care for them.
Contrary to the supposed simplicity of a single tooth, there are a lot of structures that make it up. A single tooth has around eight parts in its structure, and these parts work together to ensure the performance of a vital function.
The enamel is the bodily tissue that covers the surface of the dental crown. It is tough. It is considered one of the most durable substances in the body—on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, it’s a seven.
The cementum is a bone-like tissue that covers the tooth root’s surface. It comprises connective proteins and hydroxyapatite—substances that allow the cementum to hold the tooth firmly in the jawbone. Essentially, the cementum connects the tooth to the alveolar bone by the periodontal ligament.
What makes up most of a single tooth from the crown to the root is called dentine. It is between the enamel and the cementum. It is a lot softer than the former. It carries the dentinal tubule, which is full of dental fluid. Once the enamel wears away, the dentine will likely become very sensitive.
The periodontal ligament is a tissue that holds the teeth to the jawbone. It comprises thousands of fibers that connect the root of the tooth root to the alveolar bone. Whenever we chew, the periodontal ligament absorbs the shocks by preventing excessive force from being applied to the bone.
The pulp refers to the soft tissue or nerve from the crown to the tip of the tooth. It supplies nutrients to the dentine by using the lymph vessels, blood vessels, and nerve fibers found in the pulp. The pulp also serves to alert us to any infections and injuries.
The alveolar bone, more commonly known as the jawbone, provides the ideal place for teeth support. Your teeth are planted into this bone, so when some of it gets destroyed by periodontal disease or other such diseases, some teeth may loosen.
The gingival sulcus is the scientific term for the space between the tooth and the gums. Said space usually has a depth of one to two mm—that is, for people with healthy mouths. When the gums become inflamed, the gingival sulcus will increase in depth and will henceforth be known as the periodontal or gingival pocket.
Gingiva is known as the gum tissue in the mouth. It surrounds the teeth as well as provides them with lubrication and protection.
Different types of teeth
The canine teeth refer to the third permanent teeth from the center of the mouth to the left and right of the jaw. These are used to tear food into smaller pieces for better chewing. There are four canines—two on the upper jaw and another two on the lower jaw.
Molars are teeth located behind the canines. Their function is to grind food for better digestion. For babies and toddlers, there are usually only two of these. For adults with permanent teeth, however, there is a total of 16 molars—20 if we count the wisdom teeth.
Why do we need to take care of our teeth?
This is an excellent question. As we know, one of the main functions of our teeth is to help us tear into food and grind them properly to help with digestion. According to the results of recent research, people who have around 20 teeth can chew most types of food and therefore help keep their bodies in working order. Now, imagine growing old and losing your teeth. What would that do to your ingestion of nutrients and vitamins necessary to keep your body healthy? What about when you don’t take care of your teeth and gums, and as a result, you have dental issues and diseases. What would happen then?
Fortunately, we can maintain 20 or more teeth even when we grow old. All we need to do is ensure that we perform all appropriate plaque control tactics daily. We should also consider going on regular dental checkups for early disease detection and prompt treatment. Of course, there’s also the option of dental prostheses.
Milk Teeth and Permanent Teeth
Along with our physical growth, our jaws also grow more prominent. This means that a child’s previous milk teeth, which served as placeholders, will be replaced with proper adult teeth that we call permanent teeth. Once children’s permanent teeth have all emerged, they can then eat various types of food easily.
Some of the differences between a child’s milk teeth and an adult’s permanent teeth include color and size. Milk teeth are usually white and smaller than permanent teeth, which also have a yellowish cast. Another difference is the thinner enamel and dentin in milk teeth, making them more susceptible to dental caries.
Now that we know the roles and structure of our teeth, we should then be able to care for them better.