Published June 15, 2023 by

What is the role of teeth in digestion


Teeth, rigid structures rich in calcium, attached to the jaws, have as their main function mastication, but also help in speech and protection of the mouth.

The first dentition, in which the teeth are called “milk teeth”, corresponds to 20 teeth whose birth will cease until approximately 2 years of age. As the child grows, their jaws also grow, making room for new teeth. At approximately 6 years of age, the child begins his permanent dentition, which consists of replacing his milk teeth with permanent teeth and the emergence of other permanent ones. Between 15 and 25 years of age, wisdom teeth may appear, making up 32 teeth: 4 incisors, 2 canines, 4 premolars and 6 molars in the upper portion of the jaws and the same amount in the lower portion.

The incisor, canine, premolar, and molar teeth are the four tooth kinds seen in humans. The incisors are located at the front of the mouth and the shape of their crown makes it easier to cut food. The canine teeth are pointed and allow the food to be "teared". The premolars and molars are located at the back of the mouth and have a food-crushing function.

Enamel is the most external and compact region of the tooth. Under it is the dentin and the pulp chamber. Cementum separates the root from the ligament that holds the root and connects the tooth to the jaw. The apex is the region where the tooth ends and is where the blood vessels, connective tissue and nerves are inserted.

Function of each tooth in Digestion

The dental arch is divided into four groups and each tooth in our mouth has a specific function. Know its functions and nomenclatures!

Each tooth in our mouth has a specific function. The anatomy of the oral cavity is perfect not only for chewing, but also for our speech and food swallowing. The mouth, as the “gateway” for food, plays an important role in the entire functioning of the organism.

Humans have, in their first dentition, 20 milk teeth (10 on the top and 10 on the bottom). After the age of 6, baby teeth start to fall out and permanent teeth appear. This is formed by 32 teeth (16 upper and 16 lower). In this way, the human being has 4 incisors, 2 canines, 4 premolars and 6 molars in the upper part and the same amount in the lower part.

Each group of teeth serves something different, having its own characteristics for chewing.

Around the age of six months, the first milk teeth come in - by the age of three, all 20 have already developed. The fall of milk teeth, being replaced by permanent ones, occurs from the age of six. Counting the wisdom teeth, an adult has a total of 32 teeth in the mouth.

Understand now what the function of teeth is. They are divided into groups defined by their anatomical and functional characteristics:

Incisors: They are divided between the central and lateral incisors, and are located in the front part of the mouth, four in the upper arch and four in the lower. The main function of the incisor teeth is to cut food, both because of their location in the oral cavity and because of their shape.

Canines: These are the pointed teeth, located next to the incisors. There are two canine teeth in the upper arch and two in the lower arch, and their main function is to tear food.

Premolars: Located right after the canine teeth, there are a total of eight premolars, four in each arch. Children do not have premolars, which are only permanent. The function of the premolar teeth is to grind food.

Molars: At the bottom of the mouth are located the molar teeth, also four in the upper arch and four in the lower arch. They are used to grind and chew food, corresponding to the last process that food goes through before being swallowed.

Wisdom or third molars: There are four wisdom teeth in all, but many people do not have them, or only have a few of them. Because they are the last to be born (when the person is about 20 years old), and because they have no relevant function, it is common for them to be extracted so as not to harm the alignment of the other teeth. However, the need for extraction depends a lot on the position in which the wisdom teeth are born, and there are people who keep them without problems.

Because of their shape, which can make cleaning difficult, premolar and molar teeth are the ones most subject to cavities. Therefore, they need special attention when brushing.

Supernumerary or supernumerary teeth

Sometimes teeth develop outside of their normal process, and an example of this is supernumerary or supernumerary teeth. The usual number of teeth in an adult's mouth is 32, but some extra teeth may appear. The Department of Dentistry at the University of Missouri-Kansas City suggests that the most common type of supernumerary tooth is an extra incisor located between the two central incisors. The name of teeth of this type is mesiodens. The second most common type of supernumerary tooth is an extra molar, called a paramolar. It is also possible to develop supernumerary canine teeth.