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What are teeth made of?
What are teeth made of?

Teeth have to be very hard to withstand all the chewing and crunching of food. The hard material of the tooth is composed of calcium, phosphorus, and other mineral salts. The material in the majority of the tooth is called dentine. The hard, shiny layer that you brush is called the enamel.

Teeth have two basic parts, a root to anchor the tooth to the jaw and a crown above the gum line. The root is covered with a hard material called cementum. At the center of each tooth is an area with nerves, arteries and veins called the dental pulp.

Humans have four different types of teeth, each with a different function:

  • Incisors for cutting off bites of food.
  • Cuspids (sometimes called canines because of their long sharp points) for tearing food
  • Bicuspids (with two points) to tear and crush food
  • Molars with large relatively flat surfaces to crush and grind food.
  • Our four different types of teeth together are called collective dentition and they allows humans to be omnivores (eating both meat and vegetables). Most animals have more specialized teeth. Carnivorous (meat eating) animals have long sharp tearing teeth (like our incisors and cuspids). Grazing animals, like cows and horses have large flat teeth (like our molars) for grinding grass and other vegetation.

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