Every time we smile, frown, talk, or eat, we use our mouths and teeth. Our mouths and teeth let us make different facial expressions, form words, eat, drink, and begin the process of digestion.
The mouth is lined with moist mucous membranes. The membrane-covered roof of the mouth is called the palate. A bundle of muscles extends from the floor of the mouth to form the tongue. The top of the tongue is covered with tiny bumps called papillae that contain our taste buds. Our taste buds can sense four types of taste – sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Salivary glands in the walls and floor of the mouth secrete saliva (spit), which moistens the food and helps break it down even more and thus begins them process of digestion.
We have three different types of teeth: Incisors, canines, and molars and three types of molars including premolars, second molars and third molars. Here are their functions:
- Incisors: sharp edged teeth that are square-ish in shape and can be found in the front of the mouth. These are the teeth that first cut into the food when we bite. There are a total of 8 incisors – 4 on the bottom and 4 on the top.
- Canines: They can be found on either side of the incisors. There are 4 of them and are very sharp. They are also called the cuspids or eyeteeth.
- Premolars: Adults have four premolars on each side of their mouths — two on the upper and two on the lower jaw.
- Molars: Found behind the premolars, there are the largest of the teeth. They are used primarily to grind food during chewing.
- Third Molars: The third molars are commonly known as wisdom teeth. Some people never develop third molars at all. If developed incompletely, they are mostly removed.