How did our teeth become what they are today?
Have you ever thought how did our teeth become what they are today? How each tooth developed to performed their specialized task when biting and chewing? Teeth found in animals and humans are mineralized appendages found inside the mouth. Teeth are not just use for eating and chewing, but they are also use for self-defense, display of dominance, and help form words. The development and specialized function of human teeth was largely influence by dietary habits and ecological adaptations. These two forces help shaped the numerous forms and shapes of teeth represented by the incisors, canines, premolars, and molar tooth. This variation in tooth structure and number of teeth can be seen in the types of pets we keep and wild animals. Some animals have very few teeth and other animals over hundreds of teeth such as sharks and whales.
Teeth are also shape by different types of cells.
The largest body of a tooth are calcified tissues called dentine. Dentine is made of protein and minerals. This layer of the tooth is filled with blood vessels and nerves. The outer enamel layer is composed of hard calcified minerals free of proteins. Enamel is formed cells called ameloblasts. Before the tooth erupts from the gum, these ameloblast cells are removed. This is a reason why humans cannot regenerate or repair damaged enamel when cavities forms. Because of this, brushing with toothpaste helps strengthen the enamel and remineralization of the tooth. To mineralize the tooth, minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, and fluoride are taken up from saliva to build up the enamel over time. To support these complex tooth structure, the root helps firmly support the tooth to the bone structure of the jaw.
Understanding how teeth develop can spur new innovative dental procedures.
The way how our teeth develops are generated through an orchestrated interactions of different cell types. The different gene expression patterns of these different cells are what determines the pattern and function of a teeth. For this reason, our genetics can play a large role in teeth development, increase or reduce risk to develop cavities, health, and any familial tooth developmental abnormalities. Scientist are just starting to understand how our genes help shape teeth and their development. Maybe someday in the future, instead of using crowns or implants to replace a missing tooth, your dentist could stimulate the cells inside your mouth to regrow teeth. Replacing a missing or decayed tooth using your body’s own cells sounds like science fiction today, but it would definitely make for a better smile.
If you have questions or concerns about your dental health, please give California Dental Group a call at (800) 407-0161 for your next appointment.