While the mouth is a small part of our overall anatomy, it’s filled with many parts and players, all of which work together to help you eat, drink, speak and have a radiant smile. Here’s a quick overview of what’s at play in the average mouth:
The sharp, chisel-shaped front teeth (four upper, four lower) used for cutting food.
Sometimes called cuspids, these teeth are shaped like points (cusps) and are used for tearing and grasping food.
These teeth have two pointed cusps on their biting surface and are sometimes referred to as bicuspids. The premolars are for crushing and tearing food.
Used for grinding and chewing food, these teeth have several cusps on the biting surface to help in this process.
This is the top part of the tooth, and the only part you can normally see. The shape of the crown determines the tooth’s function. For example, front teeth are sharp and chisel-shaped for cutting, while molars have flat surfaces for grinding and chewing.
It is the location where the tooth and the gums meet. Without proper brushing and flossing, plaque can build up at the gum line, leading to gingivitis and gum disease.
It is two-thirds of the tooth that is embedded in bone and serves as an anchor to hold the tooth in place.
Enamel is the outer and hardest part of the tooth that has the most mineralized tissue in the body. It can be damaged by decay if teeth are not cared for properly.
The layer of the tooth under the enamel. If decay makes it through the enamel, it next attacks the dentin — where millions of tiny tubes lead directly to the dental pulp.
The soft tissue found in the center of all teeth, where the nerve tissue and blood vessels are located. If tooth decay reaches the pulp, you usually feel pain and may require a root canal procedure to be done.