Why do human beings need teeth?


A smile can say a thousand words. And our teeth play a very important role in creating that smile. What is an adorable toothless smile in a child, can become a stigma in an adult. For the elderly a state of toothlessness can create difficulties in their basic ability to eat good food. So then are teeth required for the the purpose of smile or to chew food only!!??

Humans need teeth to serve various purposes. The main functions of our teeth include

  • Chewing food
  • Maintain a patent airway
  • Support our lip muscles and other facial muscles and enhance our appearance
  • Help us with proper speech

What are the type of teeth in humans?

As humans, we have two sets of teeth. Each set of teeth is present in our mouth at different ages and serve a particular purpose. Hence, we have a “milk teeth” or deciduous or temporary dentition and adult or permanent dentition.

The milk teeth set starts to erupt or come into the mouth from the 4 th month of life. In total, we have 20 teeth in the milk teeth set. These come into our mouth over a period of 2-3 years. By the time your child is 3 years, all the milk teeth would have come into the mouth. The milk teeth remains in the child’s mouth till the age of 6. Care of the milk teeth is very important, because they serve to 

  • Help in chewing food
  • Maintain space in the jaw for the permanent teeth to come into their positions
  • Maintain facial contours
  • Help in the development of the jaws
  • Help in speech development

The milk teeth begin to fall off from the 6 th year of life. Generally, the root of the tooth dissolves and the crown of the tooth falls off making place for the permamnent teeth. Any premature loss of milk teeth can cause problems for the correct eruption of the successor. Also, certain habits like mouth breathing and thumb sucking can be deterants to proper growth of the jaws and teeth.

The time from the 6 th year to the 12 year is a phase of mixed dentition , when the milk teeth and the permanent teeth co-exist in your child’s mouth.

The permanent teeth are 32 in number and begin to erupt from the 6 th year to the 18 th year of life. These teeth are of different types based on the functions they perform in your mouth. The front teeth are the incisors and the canines. The back teeth are the premolars and the molars that help in chewing. The adult teeth are the second set of teeth in your mouth. Loss of adult teeth is permanent. Humans don’t have a third, fourth or fifth set coming into their mouths. So, meticulous care towards good oral hygiene is of utmost importance. 

What is the structure of the human teeth

The human teeth are made up of several structures and layers. These are similar structures in both the milk teeth dentition and the adult dentition. The outer most layer is called the “enamel”.  Enamel is white in colour and is the strongest structure in the entire body. The layer next to the enamel is the “Dentin”.  Dentin is softer than enamel and is yellow in colour. Dentin forms the bulk of your teeth. Enclosed within the dentin is the “pulp”. Pulp is a soft tissue structure, with nerves and blood vessels.

The entire tooth Is held in the jaw bone by a fibrous structure called the “Periodontal Ligament”. This is connected to your gums. The health of the gums and the ligament determines the health of your teeth. 

Says Dr Ravindra Savadi, a practicing prosthodontist ——“Good care of your gums and teeth by proper brushing and flossing prevents tooth decay and infection in your gums. Bleeding gums is a gum infection and can cause loss of your teeth. Untreated tooth decay is another reson for tooth loss. Make sure you visit your dentist or your dental hygienist regularly to maintain good and healthy teeth and gums.”

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