We may not think much of our teeth on a daily basis, but their importance to our overall health and wellbeing cannot be overstated. Besides helping us to break our food down into digestible chunks, our teeth help us in our speech and lend structure to our faces. So to help you understand our teeth and their functions better, we are here to shed some light on the different types of teeth we have and the importance of keeping them in good shape.
Different teeth types and their respective functions
First and foremost, our teeth consist of 4 different layers:
- Enamel: This is the outermost layer of our teeth and the strongest mineral tissue in our body (stronger than our bones). Its purpose is to protect our teeth against tooth decay and resist the forces of chewing
- Dentin: Right underneath our enamel is a layer of dentin. Dentin serves as a support structure to enamel and protects the dental pulp within from microbial infections.
- Pulp: Dental pulp is a soft tissue that carries a combination of blood vessels, connective tissues and nerve endings.
- Cementum: The cementum is a calcified tissue encasing the root of our tooth underneath our gums.
On top of that, the number and types of teeth we have will change as we age. The first set is our temporary baby teeth. Once we have outgrown them, we are left with the teeth we have now – our permanent adult ones. Now that we have established the basic structure of our teeth, let us move on to the types of teeth we have and their respective functions.
Also known as the anterior teeth, incisors are the sharp square teeth located on the front section of our mouths. They help us to bite into our food and create “incisions” to break them down into smaller and more manageable pieces for our bodies to digest. Both adults and children alike have a total of 8 incisors, with 4 at the top and 4 corresponding ones at the bottom.
Our canine teeth are the ones that look the most like fangs. They are situated right next to our lateral incisors and are also referred to as eyeteeth or cuspids by dentists. Since they are the longest of all the teeth, we use them to tear food apart. Additionally, they serve as the 4 corners or “pillars” of our overall dental structure.
Also known as bicuspids, premolars are made up of ridges and are bigger in size than incisors and canines. Besides helping us to chew and crush our food, they also have a flat surface to tear and pull food apart. In actuality, children do not have premolars as these only grow out as permanent teeth later on in their preteens. When that happens, adults have a total of 8 premolars, with 4 each on the top and bottom.
Molars and wisdom teeth
Finally, molars are the largest of our adult teeth. Like the premolars, they have a flat surface and are covered with ridges to help us grind and chew our food. In total, adults have 12 permanent molars with 6 located on the lower jaw and the other 6 on top. Between the ages of 17 to 21 is usually the time that our third molars or wisdom teeth will erupt. In some individuals, not all four of their wisdom teeth will erupt in their lifetime, while some may experience an impacted wisdom tooth depending on their existing bone structure.
Essentially, an impacted wisdom tooth is one that is trapped under the gum and can potentially lead to painful infections if left untreated over time. If that happens, it is imperative that you see your dentist immediately to tend to any swelling and infection. Unlike our other teeth, wisdom teeth are not vital for chewing and are difficult to clean as they are situated right at the back of the mouth. When impacted, they can lead to tooth decay, infections, jaw ache, headache and swelling of the gums if left untreated. Hence, it is important that we keep our teeth clean by brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist regularly to prevent infections and tooth decay in the long run.
Treatments available at Dental Essence Singapore
Here at Dental Essence, we take great care in upholding the value and quality of our treatments. Common procedures for the prevention or treatment of tooth decay and infections include professional tooth extractions, dental fillings or in severe cases a root canal.
Tooth extractions are usually carried out to reduce crowding of teeth in the mouth and remove impacted wisdom teeth. Also, there are 2 different types of tooth extractions available, one of which is under local anesthesia while the other under general anesthesia.
Next, dental fillings help to save teeth that undergo damage from tooth decay or blunt trauma. Instead of a complete extraction, it is an attempt to save an infected tooth by removing the decaying tissue and replacing it with a restorative material. Some of the most common materials for dental fillings include porcelain, gold, composite resin and oral-safe and mercury-free alloys. Moreover, dental fillings help to prevent infections and keep your dental structure intact.
Basically, a root canal is the removal of decaying dental pulp tissue. After cleaning and sealing the tooth, the dentist restores the tooth with a crown to prevent cracks and create a seal to prevent bacteria from getting into the tooth.
Besides these treatments, we also provide restorative treatments like dental crowns, bridges, braces, Invisalign and dental veneers. To learn more about our services or to book a dental appointment, click here.