Do you know the anatomy of your teeth? How many teeth do you have? What are the different types of teeth, and what are their functions? What are teeth made of? Permanent teeth and baby teeth, what is the difference? How are molar teeth different from incisors?

Your mouth plays a vital role in keeping your body healthy. It provides a gateway for consuming food and beverages. Each organ in your mouth plays an important role in eating food to aid easy digestion. Your permanent teeth are one of the important organs in the mouth. 

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Your teeth are broadly classified as incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. Incisors and canines are located in the front to help to cut and tear food into smaller bits. Once the food is broken down, you chew the food before it is swallowed. Your premolars and molars play a crucial role in the process of chewing and grinding.

Like premolars, molars are the flat teeth located at the rear of your mouth. Each molar typically has four or five cusps. These cusps are used exclusively for crushing and grinding.

Wisdom teeth are also called the third molars. They erupt after 18 years and onwards but are often surgically removed if they are impacted or cause other issues.

Molar Teeth Anatomy

Often referred to as molars or molar teeth, these are the flat teeth placed at the back of the mouth. They generally vary in size and shape but are the most prominent teeth in your mouth. 

Molars are rounded at the edges and used for grinding food into easily swallowed pieces. You use your smaller and sharper front teeth to tear and bite food. Molars are primarily designed to sustain great amounts of force from grinding, chewing,  and clenching. Each of your molars is anchored to the jaw bone with two to four roots.

An average adult has twelve molars, meaning six in the upper jaw, which your dentist identifies as “maxillary” because of their location in the upper jaw.

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In addition, there are six in the lower jaw identified as “mandibular” because of their location in the lower jaw. Each side of the upper and lower jaw has three molars.

According to the dental anatomy, you have a total of 12 molar teeth in your mouth.

All About Your Teeth

Teeth help us use our mouth to speak, smile, eat, and give shape to our faces. Each type of tooth has a name and a specific function.

Our teeth are made up of different layers, enamel, dentin, pulp, and cementum. Enamel, the hardest substance in the human body, is on the outside of the tooth. The second layer is dentin, which is softer than the enamel.

The deepest layer inside the tooth is the pulp, which consists of nerves and blood vessels. The cementum is on the root of the tooth and is beneath the gums.

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The types and number of teeth a person has changes with their age. Typically, an individual has two sets of teeth during their life – primary or baby teeth and permanent or adult teeth.

Types of Molar Teeth

There are three types of molars. These are permanent teeth and come in after a child loses their baby teeth:

  • First molars are called the six-year molars because they are the first of the three to erupt around age 6.
  • Second molars are called the twelve-year molars because they erupt when a child is around 12.
  • Third molars are called wisdom teeth. They appear between the ages of 17 and 21 years.

Anatomically, your molars are designed to sustain significant amounts of force from grinding, chewing, and clenching. These molars have a large crown and two to four roots firmly implanted in the jaw bone.

Why Do You Have Wisdom Teeth?

The third molars, or wisdom teeth, are vestiges inherited from our evolutionary past when the human mouth was larger and more accommodating to additional teeth. These additional molar teeth were useful in chewing hard stuff, especially coarse foods, such as nuts, roots, leaves, and tough meats.

This diet was tough on the teeth those days, especially without the helpful maintenance tools we enjoy today like toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss. Therefore, our ancestor’s teeth were subject to significant wear and loss due to tooth decay.

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Paleo diets have become the most popular diet today. Modern humans do not consume food that requires these extra teeth. These types of food are far softer after cooking them – hence the need for wisdom teeth has passed away. However, evolution has not caught up with modern food habits yet, so we still get those extra teeth late in our youth.

The Problem of Wisdom Teeth

Evolution has not dumped our wisdom teeth yet. But evolution has unfortunately made some adjustments to the size of our jawbones than what was before. 

Did you know that the jaws of modern humans are smaller than our ancestors? Hence with smaller jaws, there are many problems when those vestigial wisdom teeth try to squeeze in. 

When wisdom teeth erupt, they are blocked by our other teeth, and such wisdom teeth are referred to as being ‘impacted’. If your wisdom tooth partially erupts, it might create hard-to-reach areas in your mouth where harmful bacteria start to develop.  That could lead to severe infections of your gums and surrounding tissue. 

There can also be a scenario where wisdom teeth may also never erupt. This carries with it problems which might include the potential development of cysts or tumors that might do considerable damage to your jawbone and teeth. Hence you need to address these issues at the earliest to avoid complications. 

As a result of these problems, many people need to have their wisdom teeth removed. Hence your dentist will recommend that this surgery is performed during young adulthood when any complications are minimal and least likely to occur. 

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Some people might not have to remove their wisdom teeth as they come in without issues. According to one, this number is about 15 percent of the population.

Even in such cases, it may be recommended that the wisdom teeth be removed to avoid future problems that might develop later in life. Surgery done later in life could lead to more potential complications and longer healing times.

Exciting Facts About Molar Teeth

As you might know, molars are the biggest of all teeth. These molars have a large, flat surface with ridges that allow you to easily chew and grind your food. Adults have 12 permanent molars, six on the bottom jaw and six on the top jaw. But children have eight primary molars.

Your wisdom teeth are the last molars to erupt. These wisdom teeth, or third molars, come at a later stage. These third molars sit at the end of the row of teeth, in the far corners of your jaw. Some people do not have all four wisdom teeth. For some, the teeth might stay unerupted in the bone and never appear in the mouth.

Sometimes your wisdom teeth can become impacted, which means they can become trapped under the gum. Such impacted wisdom teeth are unable to come through properly, and the only option is wisdom teeth removal.

Human teeth include four types of teeth – incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. Children will get all of their 20 primary or baby teeth by around the age of 3. But around the age of 21, most individuals will get their wisdom teeth and have all their 32 permanent teeth.

Your teeth are essential for chewing food properly and helping people to speak. Take good care of all your teeth and maintain good oral hygiene throughout your life – can help keep your teeth strong and healthy.

When To See A Dentist

Such impacted wisdom teeth that only come through halfway or aligned in the wrong position can increase your risk for infection or damage in surrounding areas. Hence in such a scenario, it is essential to see a dentist if you have any issues with your wisdom teeth.

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Many may experience mild discomfort when the wisdom teeth start pushing through the gums. But if you feel a lot of pain or swelling, you should see a dentist.

Your dentist may need to remove your wisdom teeth if you have tooth decay, pain, or an infection. Individuals do not need these teeth for chewing as they are challenging to keep clean because of their position far back in the mouth.

The Bottomline

Your 32 teeth are essential organs for biting and grinding your food. You also need your teeth to speak clearly. While your teeth are solidly built, they can last a lifetime if you take good care of them.

To keep your molar teeth in good shape, floss and brush regularly, especially the hard-to-reach areas, and follow up with professional dental cleanings every six months.

Visiting your dentist regularly for cleaning and a checkup can ensure your molar teeth remain in good health and allow prompt treatment for any problems.