Sunday, 8 January 2017



Teeth are hard bony structures firmly fixed in the jaws of mammals from where they grow. They are normally used for biting are physical breakdown of solid food substance.

The mammalian tooth consists of three regions;
1. Crown; for breaking down the food particles into smaller pieces.
2. Neck;
3. Root; for strengthening the tooth and holding it firmly into the jaw bone.


In humans there are two jaws, the upper fixed jaw and the lower movable jaw. Both jaws have teeth used for chewing or masticating food into smaller pieces.
Humans have two successive sets of teeth.
Milk teeth or deciduous teeth. They start appearing at the age of 6-8 months. At the age of 2 years, a baby has all its teeth. They are 20 in number >> 8 incisors, 4canines and 8 molars.
Permanent teeth: at the age of 6 years, milk teeth fall out and permanent teeth appear. They are 32 in number. With the exception of last four teeth, all appear by about the age of 12 years. The last 4 teeth come out late. They are called the wisdom teeth.

The different types of teeth are; Incisors, Canines, Premolars and Molars.

These are situated at the front of the bucal cavity
The crown is chisel shaped
It is single rooted
It is used for cutting and biting.

       2. Canines

The crown is pointed and sharp
They have a single root
They are poorly developed in humans but highly developed in carnivores where they are used for piercing, tearing and killing the prey.
 3. Premolars.

They have broad flat surfaces with two cusps (projections on the surface of the tooth)
They posses two roots
They are used for crushing and grinding food
In carnivores they are adapted for cutting flesh (carnassial teeth)


they have three or more roots
each have a wider crown with ridges and 4 cusps
They are used for crushing and grinding food.

Functions of parts of the teeth


 This is the hardest part of the tooth and material in the body. It is brittle and non living. It is white in colour and contains calcium salts e.g. calcium phosphate. It protects the dentine and pulp cavity from injury. It also plays a role of strengthening the tooth.


This is the main constituent of the tooth
   Its importance is to strengthen the tooth
Pulp cavity. This is the living part of the teeth and it contains the blood vessels and nerves.

       4.  Blood vessels.

 These are mainly the blood capillaries and they supply nutrients to       the tooth.

        5. Nerves. These are sensory and help to detect heat, cold and pain in the tooth.

       6.  Cement

. This is a thin layer of bony like material. It is surrounded by a vascular    fibrous tissue which fixes the tooth firmly in the jaw bone and it holds the tooth firmly in the jaw

Gum. Also called gingival, it also makes the tooth firmly in the jaw bone.


This is the convenient way of recording the number of each type of teeth in half upper jaw and half the lower jaw of a mammal.
e.g. (I) 2/2, (C) 1/1, (P) 2/2, (M) 3/3 = 32
The figures above the line refer to the upper jaw, and those below the line refer to the lower jaw.

This means
Incisors (I) = 8, canines(C) = 4, premolars (PM) = 8, molars (M) =12
Carnivores e.g. dogs have dental formulae
(I) 3/3 (C) 1/1 (PM) 4/4 (M) 2/3 =42
Cows and sheep
(I) 0/3 (C) 0/1 (PM) 3/3 (M) 3/3 = 32
(I) 2/1 (C) 0/0 (PM) 3/2 (M) 3/3   28

Mammals teeth are adapted to its diet and feeding habits.
Dentition in carnivores  e.g. dog

The dogs teeth are well adapted for hunting and eating flesh.
The canines are large, curved and sharply pointed. While hunting the dog uses them for  grabbing and holding prey
The incisors are small and pointed and are used for tearing flesh
The molars and pre molars are narrow with sharp pointed cusps. The last upper pre molar and first lower molar of each side are particularly large. They are termed as carnassial teeth. They slide on each other like scissor action and are used to tear flesh from bone
Herbivores e.g. sheep
Herbivores are ruminants. They chew cud.
The lower incisors and canines are broad and flat.
There are no upper incisors and canines, this forms a gap on the upper jaw also known as the diastem. This allows the sheep to move its grass around the mouth with its tongue. The gap on the jaw is covered by a hard pad and the lower incisors also cut the grass against this pad.
The premolars and molars have broad crowns with transverse ridges. They grind the grass into small pieces when the sheep is chewing the cud as they slide side to side.
Omnivores e.g. man
The human teeth are well adapted for a wide diet.
The incisors have sharp, flat edges like a chisel for biting off pieces of food.
The canines have blunt points and help to bite and tear food.
The premolars and molars are broad with round cusps on their biting surfaces. The cusps are an adaptation for grinding and chewi ng of food


When food particles remain between and on the teeth, bacteria begin to grow on the particles and produces acid which eat away the enamel and dentine, making a hole in the tooth. If not treated the bacteria invade the pulp cavity and may result into diseases.

There are two major diseases of the teeth,
dental carries
periodontal diseases
Dental carries

This is caused due to the formation of a layer known as dental plaque which comes as a result of lack of constant cleaning of teeth.
The micro organisms in the dental plaque convert sugar in the mouth to an acid. This dissolves the enamel and a small hole gradually develops. When the hole reaches the dentine and pulp cavity, a severe pain or toothache will be felt. This condition leads to the tooth being extracted.
Other causes are
Prolonged exposure to sugary foodstuff
Disturbance of saliva composition
Lack of calcium and vitamin D for strengthening the teeth

Periodontal diseases

Pyorrhea. This is an infection of the fibres which are holding the tooth in its socket making it become loose.
Gingivitis. (Gum disease)
This causes the gums to bleed and if not treated the tooth becomes loose in their sockets and may fall off.
Periodontal diseases are characterized by inflammation of the gums. This involves; reddening of the gums, swelling of the gums, pain, bleeding, and even presence of pus.


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