We tend to take our teeth for granted. Have you ever wondered why they are the way they are in our mouth and what they have evolved to do?
Adults have 32 teeth, which are typed as incisors (8), canines/cuspids (4), premolars (8), and molars (12). As symmetrical beings, we have 16 teeth each on our upper and lower jaws and eight on each side of our mouths. Each type of tooth has a particular job:
These are the teeth that are at the front of your mouth, four on top and four on the bottom. They are tasked with holding and cutting food and also help you determine the food’s texture. Incisors is Latin for cutter.
These are the teeth at the “corners”, two on top and two on bottom, that have cusps for grabbing and tearing food. Canine means relating or resembling a dog. Cusp means a point of apex, which is an apt description of the shape of this tooth.
These are between the canine teeth and molars and are formed with characteristics of both. They have also evolved for cutting and tearing food.
The most prevalent of teeth, they are located behind the pre-molars at the back of your jaw. They have large surfaces that are used to grind food until it is swallowed. Because the human jaw has been getting smaller, usually attributed to our change from hunter-gather to farmers, some people don’t have room for their rear molars, or wisdom teeth. There may also be an evolutionary reason for the change in jaw size: we started cooking food, which make it easier to eat and didn’t require as much jaw strength to survive.
With all of this talk about teeth, let’s talk about how they aid in your digestion. We mentioned earlier that there are eight molars. Perhaps that’s because we are supposed to thoroughly chew our food before swallowing it. That makes sense, since chewed food gets mixed with saliva as the first part of the digestive process. The more we chew our food, the easier it is to digest. A guide for how many times we should chew our food is from 15-40 times per but. Less for easy to chew food like watermelon and more for fibrous meat and nuts.
With that in mind, it’s really important to take good care of your teeth to avoid decay and their potential removal. Should you loose, you should consider a mirco-dental implant to make sure the empty space is occupied so that the adjacent teeth don’t shift to fill the space.
If you have any questions about caring for your teeth or if you are interested in micro-dental implants, contact us.