Your mouth is one of the most important parts of your body, helping you with chewing, eating, speaking, and a variety of other tasks. But it’s also worth noting that problems with your oral health can cause problems with other areas of the body—which is taking care of your mouth is extremely important.
In this blog, the Germantown dentists at Clopper’s Mill Dental Care will give you a breakdown of the parts of your mouth, how they work, and how problems in the mouth can cause a variety of health issues.
Parts of a Tooth
Every part of a tooth has a specific function for sensory or protective purposes. These are the four parts of a tooth:
As the outermost part of the tooth, the enamel covers the tooth crown, and protects the tooth from decay and infection. Enamel is mainly composed of phosphorus and calcium, which is amazingly stronger than bone!
Directly underneath the enamel is dentin, a calcified material protecting the inner structures of the tooth. It’s much softer than tooth enamel, which means it’s much more susceptible to tooth decay if the enamel were to wear away.
Cementum “cements” or anchors the tooth root into the bone, and can be located behind the gums. This part of the tooth can decay easily if the gums are in poor shape or are suffering from gingivitis or periodontitis, so be sure to take proper care of your gums in order to protect your cementum!
Pulp is a general term for the nerves, tissues, and vessels that deliver nutrition and sensory signals to your teeth. Feeling tooth pain because you drank an ice-cold beverage? Technically, that’s part of your pulp talking.
Types of Teeth
Your mouth is made up of four different types of teeth—all of which are shaped differently and serve specific purposes:
Located in the back of the mouth, the first “deciduous” molars emerge around one year to 15 months of age. These molars are eventually replaced by the first and second permanent premolars—four upper molars and four lower molars that come in behind the original molars. The first set of original molars appear around age 6, and the second molars come in between 10 and 13 years.
Premolars, also known as bicuspids, begin to appear in the mouth at age 10, with one upper-lower pair appearing first, followed by another upper-lower pair appearing about a year later. Premolars are used for chewing, grinding, and mashing of food.
As the sharpest teeth in the mouth, canines are used for shredding and tearing food. Four primary canines appear in the mouth, with upper canines coming in around 16-20 months and lower canines coming in shortly after. When permanent canines come in, that order is reversed.
Your incisors are your “money maker” teeth—the front eight teeth in the center of the mouth that make up your smile and help with biting and clear speech. These teeth are the first to appear in the mouth, with primaries coming in around 6 months of age and permanent incisors coming in around 6-8 years.
Third molars, more commonly known as wisdom teeth, are the final teeth to develop in the mouth—if they develop in the mouth at all. Those who do develop wisdom teeth usually see them peeking in around age 18-20. Unfortunately, third molars can cause crowding in the mouth, which is why wisdom teeth removal is such a necessary and ubiquitous operation all over the world.
Not Just About Teeth
Your oral health goes well beyond molars and incisors—your tongue and gums are a huge part of your oral health as well:
The tongue is the champion of tasting, eating, swallowing, and speech—and is one of the strongest muscles in the entire body. It’s anchored to the hyoid bone, which allows for proper swallowing and speaking and protects the larynx, pharynx, and epiglottis.
An unhealthy or infected tongue can be caused by a variety of factors. But much of the time, infections of the gums or teeth can cause or worsen tongue ailment symptoms—another reminder that proper oral health habits are incredibly important!
The gums act as a protective barrier for the dentin and cementum of the teeth, and ensure that teeth are firmly rooted into the jaw. Gums are perhaps the most sensitive component of the mouth; if your gums become infected with bacteria, it can cause health problems with the teeth, tongue, stomach, lungs, and even the heart.
Be sure to brush and floss daily, rinse with mouthwash, and take extra time to brush in and around the gumline to keep bacteria at bay. These are the keys to optimal oral health!
Keep Your Whole Mouth Healthy!
Oral health isn’t just about a white smile—it’s about taking care of every part of your mouth for the best possible holistic health. That’s how Clopper’s Mill Dental Care can help. With an experienced staff of friendly dentists and oral surgeons, we can help you improve your oral health so you feel better and smile better. Schedule an appointment with Clopper’s Mill Dental Care today!