Today Nurse Nanobot and I added the choppers, the gnashers, the fangs, the pearly whites – all of which means the teeth!
Teeth are brilliantly handy things, helping you to eat and talk. Without your teeth people might struggle to understand you – teeth help you say lots of letters – like ‘S’. Without teeth it would sound more like ‘TH’!
Press the play button above to listen to us explore the world of your teeth and also read loads of interesting facts below!
Your teeth might look smooth and white but there is a lot going on under the surface. The bit you can see poking up from your pink gums is called the crown. It has a tough enamel coating which is like a shield – protecting what’s underneath.
Dentin is the next layer below the crown, and it’s also hard – protecting the squidgy pulp where the nerve endings and blood supply run. These sensitive parts are what cause toothache when a tooth has been injured.
The pulp goes right down through the tooth into the jaw under your gum where it melds with a substance called cementum which sticks it all down.
You might have lost a tooth or a few teeth by now, and maybe you’ve left them under the pillow for the tooth fairy! If you’re lucky, maybe she left some money for you!
You get your first set of teeth – about 20 of them, when you’re a baby – they arrive one at a time which is why babies have gappy toothy grins. By the time you’re 5 or 6, they’re ready to be replaced by your big teeth which start pushing them out of the way – and that’s why your baby teeth start falling out and you get a gappy toothy grin all over again!
Don’t worry though, your baby teeth are replaced by a more permanent set of teeth which will be with you for the rest of your lives.
Not all teeth are the same:
Your front teeth are called incisors. Their job is to cut food cleanly into chunks – chomping apples, in particular, is just the sort of thing for which incisors are perfect.
On either side of the incisors, you have four canine teeth – one on each side on each row. They’re especially pointy, and help tear food up – canine means dog and dogs have very long canine teeth.
Next to your canine teeth are the premolars. You might have to stretch your mouth open a bit to see them in the mirror. There are eight of these, four at the top and four at the bottom. They’re flatter and bumpier and great for grinding and chewing.
Finally, you have molars right at the back. These are even rougher and bigger – they’re the best for mashing food up so it is easy for your tongue to sweep into a gulp.
The very last kind of teeth that you may see someday are the wisdom teeth. They’re extra big teeth right at the back, which you only get when you’re old and wise.
Sometimes, though, they stay under the surface and never come out at all! The theory goes that they’re left over from the stone age when we would have eaten a lot more rough stuff.
Nurse Nanobot’s Orrible Old Anatomy Fact
Primitive man used a mallet to smash them out. Then special forceps and lances were designed to make it less messy.
The ancient Chinese dentists did something a bit different though – they trained their fingers to be strong enough to pull teeth out by practising with nails in wood – quite a clever trick!
Over the last few hundred years barbers used to perform surgery like tooth extraction – that’s why they have red and white striped poles outside – it’s to represent blood and bandages. Look out for the pole next time you go for a haircut!
Bacteria love a dirty mouth and they love sugar or food deposits. If you don’t clean your teeth often enough, when you run your tongue over your teeth they’ll feel fuzzy. That’s plaque – the bacteria’s playground – yuck!
Leave it long enough and the acidy plaque will eat into the hard crown and right down to the pulp. aAs well as looking very black and yucky, they will really hurt and might need a filling – that’s when the dentist has to drill out the bad parts to mend with a type of cement.
Don’t worry, dentists are nice and give you a special medicine to totally numb your mouth so you shouldn’t feel a thing!
But to make sure you don’t need to have fillings, remember to give your teeth a really thorough brush twice a day for at least two minutes, and make sure you see a dentist regularly ….and eat lots of crunchy veg instead of sweets – it’s kinder on your chompers.