Our Habana location moved! Stop by our new location 302 N. Howard Ave., Tampa, FL, 33606

The Anatomy of Your Teeth and How They Can Affect Your Oral Health​

The human mouth is a marvel of biological engineering. The core has complex structures and many teeth, each with a special role in chewing, talking, and appearance. The interplay between different types of teeth and their arrangement is crucial for overall oral health.

But most people are unaware of how their different teeth work together to help them bite into their favorite foods. 

This article examines teeth and gums, including their structure and how they interact with each other. The placement of teeth and gums in the mouth is crucial for achieving a harmonious balance.

The Different Types and Amount of Teeth

Were you aware that you have five kinds of teeth, each specialized for some particular task? Let’s look to see what each of them are about and how the root anatomy of your teeth affects your oral health.


At the forefront of your mouth are the incisors, the sharp-edged teeth designed for cutting. There are two incisors in each quadrant of your mouth. Four are on the top and four are on the bottom.

The incisors play a role in the initial stages of breaking down food during chewing.


Positioned next to the incisors are the pointed teeth you see in a smile, also known as cuspids. Canines have a more pronounced and tapered shape, which enables them to tear and grasp food. Humans have four canines, one in each quadrant.


Behind the canines, the premolars come into play. Premolars have a flat surface with multiple cusps, making them well-suited for grinding and crushing food. There are eight premolars in total, with two in each quadrant.


The molars, positioned at the back of the mouth, are the powerhouse teeth for grinding and chewing. Adults typically have twelve molars – three on each side of the upper and lower jaw. Molars have a broader surface area to efficiently break down food particles.

Third Molars

Often referred to as wisdom teeth, these are the last set of molars to emerge in late adolescence or early adulthood. Once, wisdom teeth held importance, but now dentists often remove them. This is because our jaws don’t have enough space for them, which leads to tooth pain.

Tooth Structure

Understanding the anatomy of baby teeth and adult teeth is essential to grasp how different types of teeth interact with one another. Here’s the lowdown on the intricacies of tooth structure.

Crown Shape

The crown is the visible, top part of the tooth that extends above the gumline. It’s covered by tooth enamel – the hardest substance in the human body, which protects the tooth from wear and tear. 


Beneath the gumline lies the root of the tooth, anchored within the jawbone. The root secures the tooth in place and facilitates the transmission of nerve signals and nutrients.


Inside the tooth, beneath the enamel and dentin layers, is the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues that nourish the tooth and provide sensory functions.


Dentin forms the bulk of the tooth structure and lies beneath the enamel. A hard tissue, not as dense as enamel, plays a crucial role in supporting the tooth’s overall structure.

Occlusion: The Harmony of Your Bite

When the jaw is closed, occlusion aligns and interacts the upper and lower teeth. Achieving proper occlusion is essential for effective mastication and maintaining oral health. The intricate relationships between the different types of teeth contribute to this harmonious bite.

Incisor Relationship

The incisors in the upper and lower jaws typically meet edge-to-edge, allowing for precise cutting and biting actions. This alignment aids in initial food breakdown.

Canine Relationship

Canines possess a more pointed structure, which enables them to interlock when closing the jaw. This helps in tearing and grasping food during chewing.

Premolar and Molar Relationship

The premolars and molars, with their broad and flat surfaces, work together to grind and crush food effectively. The upper molars interlock with the lower molars, creating a stable chewing platform.

Malocclusion: When Harmony Is Disrupted

Malocclusion refers to a misalignment of teeth, disrupting the harmonious relationship required for effective occlusion. These tooth conditions can manifest in various ways.


An overbite occurs when the upper front teeth excessively overlap the lower front teeth. This condition can lead to uneven wear on the teeth and jaw discomfort.


Conversely, an underbite occurs when the lower front teeth protrude beyond the upper front teeth. Underbites can impact speech, cause difficulty in biting, and contribute to jaw issues.


The misalignment of upper and lower teeth when the jaw is closed causes a crossbite. This condition can lead to uneven wear on teeth and may contribute to jaw asymmetry.

Open Bite

When the jaw is closed, an open bite occurs, which is characterized by a gap between the upper and lower front teeth. This condition can affect speech and may contribute to difficulties in biting and chewing.

The Impact on Oral Health

Malocclusion not only affects the aesthetic appearance of the smile but can also have profound implications for oral health. Here are some ways it can negatively affect your teeth.

Tooth Wear

Uneven pressure on your teeth because of malocclusion, can result in accelerated wear on certain teeth. This leads to sensitivity and an increased risk of dental issues.

TMJ Disorders

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorders may arise because of malocclusion. This contributes to jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty in jaw movement. 

Speech Issues

Malocclusion can interfere with proper tongue movement. This can contribute to speech impediments, affecting communication and self-confidence.

Oral Hygiene Challenges

Misaligned teeth can create challenges in maintaining optimal oral hygiene. This is because certain areas may be more difficult to reach during brushing and flossing.

The Anatomy of Your Teeth and Gum Matters

If your bite feels uneven or you experience pain when you eat or talk, it’s important to get help from a professional. Our dentists can assess your oral health, diagnose malocclusion, and recommend appropriate treatment options. 

At McIlwain Dental Specialists, we have 40 years of general and pediatric dentistry excellence behind us, so you can trust you are in good hands. Set up an appointment with us today.