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Teeth – ever wondered more about them?

Looked after properly our teeth should last us a lifetime, but have you ever wondered a bit more about them. How did they develop? Why do we have them?

A tooth is a small calcified, whitish structure found in the mouth or jaws of many vertebrates. They are used to break down food. Some animals, particularly meat eaters use them for hunting or defence purposes. The roots of the teeth are covered by gum. Teeth are not made out of bone, rather they are made of multiple tissues of varying density and hardness.

The general structure of teeth is similar across the vertebrates, although there is considerable variation in their form and position. The teeth of mammals have deep roots, this is also found in some fish and some of the crocodile family. In lizards they are attached to the inner surface of the jaw by one side. In fish such as sharks they are attached by tough ligaments to the hoops of cartilage that form the jaw.

Some animals develop many sets of teeth, some develop only one set. Sharks for example grow a new set of teeth every two weeks to replace worn ones. The incisor teeth of rodents grow and wear away continually through gnawing, this helps maintain a constant length. Many rodents such as voles and guinea pigs as well as rabbits in addition to incisors have continuously growing molars.

Teeth are not always attached to the jaw as they are in mammals. In many fish and reptiles, teeth are attached to the palate or the floor of the mouth, forming additional rows to those inside the jaw.

While not teeth in the true sense, the denticles of sharks are almost identical in structure. Teeth appear to have evolved first in sharks and are not found in the more primitive fish.

Amphibians typically have small teeth or none at all, since they commonly feed only on soft foods. In reptiles teeth are generally simple and conical in shape, although there is some variation between species, most notably the venom injecting fangs of snakes.

The pattern of incisors, canines, premolars and molars is found only in mammals. The numbers of these types of teeth varies greatly among the species. Teeth are among the most distinctive and long lasting of mammal species. Paleontologists use teeth to identify fossil species and determine their relationships. The shape of an animal’s teeth are related to its diet. Plant matter is hard to digest, so plant eaters, herbivores, have many molars for chewing and grinding. Meat eaters, carnivores, need canines to kill prey and tear meat.

Mammals in general, develop two sets of teeth. In humans, the first set, baby or milk teeth, normally starts to appear at about six months of age. Although some babies are born with more than one visible tooth. Teething at about six months can be painful. Kangaroos and elephants are unusual as they only develop one set.

In dogs, the teeth are less likely to form dental cavities than in humans, as they have a very high pH in their saliva, which prevents breakdown in the enamel.

In humans there are usually 20 baby teeth and 28 to 32 permanent teeth, the last four being wisdom teeth or third molars. Each of which, may or may not grow. Among baby teeth, ten are usually found in the upper jaw and the other ten in the lower jaw. Among permanent teeth sixteen are found in the upper jaw and sixteen are found in the lower jaw. Most teeth have distinguishing features.

In horses an adult horse has between 36 and 44 teeth. All horses have 12 premolars, 12 molars and 12 incisors. Generally all male equines have four canine teeth between the molars and incisors. However a few female horses have canines, and usually they will only have one or two and even then they may only be partially erupted. Horse teeth can be used to estimate the animal’s age. Between birth and five years, age can be closely estimated by observing the eruption pattern on milk teeth and then permanent teeth. All permanent teeth have usually erupted by the age of five. The horse is then said to have a “full mouth”. After the age of five, age can only guessed by a study of wear and tear on the incisors, shape, the angle at which the incisors meet and other factors. A horse’s incisors, premolars and molars, once fully developed, continue to erupt, as the grinding surface is worn down by chewing. A young adult horse will have teeth which are 4.5 to 5 inches long, with the majority of the crown remaining below the gum line in the dental socket. The test of the tooth erupts very slowly from the jaw at about one eighth of an in a year as the horse ages. When the horse reaches old age, the crowns of the teeth are very short and some teeth are lost altogether. If the horse is lacking molars it may need to have its fodder ground up and soaked in water in order to create a soft mush for them.

Elephant’s tusks are specialized incisors for digging up food and for fighting. Some elephant teeth are similar to those in manatees  and elephants are believed to have undergone an aquatic phase in their evolution. Elephants have four molars, one on each side of the upper and lower jaw. The new molars shift forward from the back of the jaw as the old wear down. The final set of molars last for about twenty years.

Rabbits usually shed their teeth before or very shortly after birth, and are usually born with their permanent teeth. Their teeth suit their diet which consists of a wide range of vegetation. Some of the food is abrasive enough to wear teeth away and rabbit teeth continue to grow throughout its life. Rabbits have a total of six incisors, three upper premolars, three upper molars, two lower premolars, and two lower molars on each side. Rabbits have no canine teeth. Three to four millimetres of tooth is worn away by incisors every week, whereas the back teeth require a month to wear away the same amount.

The human teeth function is primarily for mechanically breaking down items of foods by cutting and crushing then in preparation for swallowing and digestion. There are four different types. Canines, molars, premolars and incisors. Each type of tooth has a different job. The canines tear the food, the molars and premolars crush the food and the incisors cut the food.

Plaque is a bio film consisting of large quantities of various bacteria that form on teeth. If not removed regularly, plaque build up and lead to gum problems such as gingivitis. Dental cavities known as “tooth decay” is an infectious disease which damages the structures of teeth. The disease can lead to pain, tooth loss and infection.

Oral hygiene is the practice of keeping the mouth clean and is a means of preventing plaque build up, cavities and bad breath. It should be a mixture of personal and professional oral health care. Regular cleaning done by a profession hygienist, to remove plaque build up that can not be removed by conventional home tooth brushing. Professional teeth cleaning includes tooth scaling, using various instruments or devices to loosen and remove deposits from teeth. The purpose of cleaning teeth is to remove plaque, which consists mostly of bacteria. Professionals recommend brushing twice a day, in the morning and evening or after meals, in order to prevent the formation of plaque. A toothbrush is able to remove most plaque, except between the teeth. Flossing is also recommended in order to maintain oral hygiene. Electric toothbrushes are a popular aid to oral hygiene. The most important advantage of electric toothbrushes is their ability to aid people with dexterity difficulties, such as those associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

Proper cleaning and regular checkups with the dentist can help prevent plaque build up and cavities and ensure that your teeth last you a lifetime. And if you want to take your teeth to the next level of whiteness, the best way to do this is to whiten your teeth, this can be done either by yourself with over the counter products. Or by either going to a dental clinic or order a mobile dental technician to come to your home.

This is an excellent service as it keeps them clean and white, which is great for your confidence. One of the best teeth whitener’s in South Yorkshire is Superstar-Smiles.