Tooth anatomy & Glossary

Each tooth has four main parts, including the following:

  • ENAMEL - the outermost layer of the tooth, it is the tough, shiny, white outer surface of the tooth
  • DENTIN - the inner layer next to enamel and the main part of the tooth..It is hard but porous tissue located under both the enamel and cementum of the tooth. Dentin is harder than bone.
  • PULP - the soft center of the tooth. The pulp contains blood vessels and nerves; it nourishes the dentin.
  • ROOT- that part of the tooth that secures it into the jaw.
  • PERIODONTAL MEMBRANE/ LIGAMENT – the fleshy tissue between tooth and the tooth socket; it holds the tooth in place. The fibers of the periodontal membrane are embedded within the cementum.
  • CEMENTUM- a layer of tough, yellowish, bone-like tissue that covers the root of a tooth. It helps hold the tooth in the socket. The cementum contains the periodontal membrane

People have two sets of teeth in their lives, the primary teeth which are also called the baby, milk or deciduous teeth and the permanent teeth which are also called the adult or secondary teeth).

Children have 20 primary teeth; they are replaced by the permanent teeth by about age 13. Adults have 32 permanent teeth.

Primary Teeth:
Most babies are born with no visible teeth — the teeth are forming inside the gums. The 20 primary teeth (also called baby teeth or first teeth) erupt (poke through the gums) over the time from when a baby is from about 6 months to a year old.

Permanent Teeth:
Primary teeth fall out and are replaced by 32 permanent teeth (also called the adult teeth). This happens over the time from when a child is from about 6 to 14 years old.

As a permanent tooth forms under the gums and in the jawbone, the roots of the primary tooth it is replacing dissolve. Then the primary tooth becomes loose and falls out. The permanent tooth will fill the space.

Incisor – a type of tooth with a narrow edge (in humans, the front teeth). Incisors are used to cut food. An incisor has 1 root. Adult humans have 8 incisors (4 in the top jaw and 4 in the bottom jaw).

Premolar (also called bicuspid) - the type of tooth located between the canine and the molars in humans. A bicuspid tooth has 1 root. Bicuspids have two points (cusps) at the top. Adults have 8 premolars (4 in the top jaw and 4 in the bottom jaw).

Molar – a wide, flat tooth found in the back of mammal’s mouths. Molars grind food during chewing. Molars in the top jaw have 3 roots; molars in the lower jaw have 2 roots. Adults have 12 molars (6 in the top jaw and 6 in the bottom jaw).

Wisdom Teeth:

Wisdom teeth (also called the third molars) are molars that usually erupt from the ages of 17 to 21.

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