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We use our teeth everyday, but very few of us take time to think about what needs to take place for the simple action of chewing to happen successfully. If you take a moment to feel your teeth, you’ll notice all manners of ridges and bumps. Some teeth are pointier and flatter, while others have a larger surface. Why are our teeth structured in the way they are, and how does this help us chew our food?
While all our teeth work together to perform the task of breaking up our food, we do have some specialized kinds of teeth that are better at specific jobs. You have 8 incisors in the front of your mouth, 4 on the top and 4 on the bottom. These flat teeth are specially built to bite down on food and grasp it, allowing you to tear and cut a crunchy vegetable or hearty steak. Beside the incisors are 4 canines, with 2 on the top and 2 on the bottom. These sharp teeth are again there to assist with tearing up food.
Beside the canines, you have your premolars, or bicuspids. These teeth have the double role of tearing and chewing up food. While they’re still sharp, they’re also flatter and have a larger area for grinding on food. Finally, in the back of your mouth, you have your molars. These do the bulk of the work in grinding up food using their strong flat ridges. You may also have heard of our extra set of molars, often called wisdom teeth, that grow in during adolescence. While these teeth may have served a purpose in ancient times, they tend to cause crowding and are commonly removed by a dentist to ensure that rest of your teeth are positioned properly.
Your teeth are carefully and strategically placed to best aid you in eating! Incisors at the front of your mouth are placed to let you tear off bites, while molars in the back work to grind it up. Could you imagine if the positions of these two kinds of teeth were swapped? Your mouth wouldn’t be nearly as efficient at what it does! Besides teeth, your tongue plays a large role in helping you break down food, working with your molars to move food around and ensure it’s been uniformly broken down. Digestive enzymes in your saliva get to work right away, breaking down food chemically while your teeth and tongue work at it mechanically.
Your mouth works in tremendous synchronicity to accomplish the difficult task of chewing your food. Next time you sit down to enjoy a hearty meal, take a moment and thank your teeth for all their hard work! Hard working teeth deserve to be taken care of, and Centennial Smiles have the best teeth doctors around! Looking to book an appointment? Get started by calling our office at (587) 317‑7959 today!