How much do you really know about your teeth?

Do you know the difference between a crown and periodontium? Learn more here.

15 April 2016
by The South African Dental Association

As you well know, teeth are vital to aid with the digestion process and assist by breaking down food into smaller more manageable pieces for swallowing and digestion. 

How many teeth should kids and adults have?

The primary dentition of a child which consists of 20 teeth in total (10 upper and 10 lower) maintains space in the growing and developing upper and lower jaws to enable the adult dentition of 32 teeth in total to erupt.

The incisors are used for cutting, whilst the canines tear and the molars grind foodstuffs. Each jaw holds 2 incisors, 1 canine and 2 molars.

Teeth usually begin to erupt in the following sequence, however these timelines are not cast in stone and may vary from child to child:

Incisors: 8-13 months

Canines: 16-22 months

First molars: 13-19 months

Second molars: 25-33 months

The composition of each of your teeth

Crown: This is the section of the tooth structure which is visible above the gum and is used to breakdown food as the one surface of a tooth grinds against the opposing surface of another tooth. The crown consists of both hard and soft tissue.

Enamel: This is the hard tissue which covers the crown of the tooth.

Cementum: This is a hard mineral surface which covers the root of the tooth. It is softer than enamel.

Dentine: This is the layer which appears below both the enamel of the crown and the cementum of the root – it makes up the bulk of the tooth. It is considered to be a hard tissue. Dentine however is porous and allows nutrients to be transferred through the layers of the tooth.

Pulp: Below the dentine is the pulp which requires the essential rich blood and nerve supply for the maintenance of a healthy tooth.

Ginigiva (gum): This is the soft tissue covering your tooth which can be seen when opening the mouth cavity covering the root which is embedded in the bone.

Periodontium: The root of the tooth is held by periodontium ligaments which originate from the surrounding bone and are embedded into the cementum.

Bone: This is the hard tissue area in which the root of the tooth is embedded.

Blood vessels and nerves: These are vital for the maintenance of a healthy tooth.

Root: The section of the tooth which is hidden in the gum. This section of the tooth anchors the tooth and allows for blood and nerve supply to the tooth to keep it vital and healthy. Both hard and soft tissue make up the composition of the root of a tooth.

For more info

Visit the South African Dental Association’s website




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