Teeth Trivia: Things Everyone Should Know About Their Teeth
Did you know that humans can detect smiles from more than 300 feet away?
Some people think this developed because early humans needed to be able to distinguish between a friend or enemy. This may be why we’re able to recognize the difference between the 19 types of smiles, which range between genuine, fear, and embarrassment.
Whatever the type, there’s one prominent factor to a beautiful smile: healthy teeth.
Everybody knows that having healthy teeth is essential, but sometimes it’s hard to keep up with perfect oral health. Here are some questions about dental health answered.
What Types of Teeth Do You Have?
The human mouth has 32 permanent teeth by the time a person reaches adulthood. But out of those 32 teeth, there are only four different types.
The four types of teeth you have are incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. They all different functions and come at different stages.
Type #1: Incisors
Incisors are the four front teeth on both the upper and lower jaw. Since they are the teeth you bite with, incisors are primarily used to cut food.
Usually, incisors are the first teeth to arrive at six months old. You can expect your adult set to develop between six and eight years old.
Type #2: Canines
Canines are also known as “fangs” and are used to tear food apart. Canines are next to your incisors. You can quickly tell them apart from your other teeth because they’re a little sharper, resembling fangs — hence their nickname!
They are the next teeth to develop after incisors and appear between 16 and 20 months old. The adult set usually comes in around twelve years old.
Type #3: Premolars
Premolars sit in front of the molars. They are on the side of your mouth on both the upper and lower jaw.Premolars, or bicuspids, are meant to help you chew and help transition food to your molars.
Adults have four premolars, with two on the upper, and two on the lower. Usually, they develop around six years old. An average adult has eight premolars in their mouth.
Type #4: Molars
Molars are the large, flat teeth at the back of your mouth. They are used to grind food during chewing. By breaking down food, they help prevent choking during swallowing.
Adults have 12 molars, in four groups of three at the back of the mouth on both the upper and lower jaw. The molars up top are called maxillary molars, and the bottom are called mandibular molars.
People also develop something called “third molars,” which develop between 18 and 20 years old in most adults. These are also known as wisdom teeth.
Fun fact: These molars got nicknamed this because they appear so late in age — when a person is considered wiser!
Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?
About 85 percent of wisdom teeth will have to be removed. You might be wondering why we develop wisdom teeth at all if they have to get pulled out anyway.
So, why do they exist at all?
Anthropologists theorize that wisdom teeth are the evolutionary answer to our ancestors’ raw diet. Thousands of years ago, Neanderthals ate a lot of coarse foods like leaves, roots, and nuts, which required a stronger chewing power than regular molars could give.
Why Do Wisdom Teeth Need To Be Removed?
Sort of like a gallbladder, wisdom teeth don’t serve many purposes and can be problematic. They can be especially frustrating since they can cause crowding and discomfort at the back of the jaw.
Thousands of years ago, our ancestors needed their wisdom teeth. However, over time, the human jaw has decreased in size. This means that more prominent teeth like molars are prone to overcrowding, which causes a number of issues, such as:
The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons strongly recommends that you get your wisdom teeth removed as a young adult.
What Are Those White Spots On Your Teeth?
When you check your smile in the mirror, do you notice any white spots on your teeth?
If so, these white spots are an indication of loss of mineral content from your enamel. This is called hypocalcification.
The white spots are not only a cosmetic concern, but they’re also an early sign of decay and deterioration. There are a few reasons they may have formed, such as:
Chronic dry mouth
Acidic foods and drinks
Lots of acid reflux
Plaque buildup from poor hygiene
Use of whitening strips
Additionally, in toddlers, white spots on the teeth can be caused by illness, medication, excessive fluoride, or general poor hygiene.
The good news is that you can prevent these spots from multiplying and get rid of them.
How To Get Rid Of Teeth White Spots
Since white spots on the teeth are a sign of decreasing calcium, the best thing you can do is reintroduce calcium. Unfortunately, drinking a lot of milk won’t do the trick!
Instead, you should visit your dentist. There, your doctor may present you three options:
Microabrasion: This procedure gently removes a thin layer of surface enamel, which improves the appearance of your teeth.
Bleaching: Bleaching your teeth can help balance the color of your teeth. You can get this done in-office or use a dentist-approved whitening kit for home use.
Porcelain Veneers: If all else fails, then your dentist may recommend porcelain veneers. They provide natural-looking teeth and prevent future stains from occurring.
At home, you can invest in fluoride-free toothpaste and mouthwash since fluoride is an indicator of calcium decay.
How To Have A Healthy Smile
No matter where you’re from or which language you speak, smiling is the universal sign of happiness. There’s no wonder why everybody strives for a bright and healthy smile.
However, getting there can be a challenge. Sometimes teeth don’t grow in just right, and sometimes they are yellower than we’d like. But the key to a good smile is good dental hygiene.
“My advice is to brush thoroughly, at least twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening before going to bed,” says Dr. Richard Price, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association. “Be sure to floss at least once a day. I do it after every meal when I can.”
Start by practicing these three tips daily:
Spend 2-3 minutes brushing your teeth twice a day
Use floss at least once a day to clean between teeth
Buy ADA-approved dental cleaning tools and toothpaste
Combine these steps with visiting your dentist every six months, and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to obtain a healthy and beautiful smile.
Whether you have white spots on your teeth or are worried about your wisdom teeth, the best thing you can do is visit your dentist. Your dentist will help you diagnose and solve any issues — and you’ll be on your way to a flawless smile!
About the Author
DR. Geoffrey Grant
Owner / Dentistry Practitioner
Dr. Geoffrey Grant grew up in Salt Lake City. He attended Brigham Young University for his undergraduate studies and graduated cum laude with a degree in exercise science. He then earned his Doctorate of Dental Surgery at Creighton University School of Dentistry in Omaha, Nebraska