When it comes to our teeth most of us only really think about them when we have our regular check-ups or develop a problem with them. If you need a dentist then SJR Dental are a private dentist Leicester located .Other than that, we merrily go through our daily lives cleaning and flossing our teeth without really giving them a second thought. However, they are not only unique to each individual and are used to identify people who have died, but also help to tell the story of human evolution.
Throughout the centuries our teeth in terms of their type and placement in our mouths has changed as a result of the adaptations that have occurred in or diets. The best way to look at how this has occurred is to go through each tooth type in turn.
Molars – these are the set of teeth that are found at the back of the mouth and are larger than the others with a flatter surface area. Their primary function is for chewing and grinding food. They are incredibly strong and have longer roots that the other teeth. Their strength and design mean they are perfect for chewing plant-based foods as these have strong cell walls and so are harder to break up in the mouth. Most of us find that we tend to get cavities at one point or another in these molars. This is because we spend most of our time chewing food using these teeth. Early man would also have used the molars more than the other teeth.
Incisors – these are the front four teeth on both the upper and lower jaw. Although these are incredibly strong the teeth structure is thinner than others. The main purpose of these teeth is to rip though meat before passing through the mouth for the other teeth to chew. In animals that are pure carnivores you will find that all, or the majority, of their teeth will be of an incisor variety. In omnivores such as ourselves all teeth types are present. Early man would have had incisors, but these would have been used very rarely when a meat source was hunted, they have developed further as our diets have become more meat based.
Canines – these are the pointy teeth that you can feel on either side of the incisors. They are used as clamps to hold meat into place whilst the incisors work to rip into it. They anchor the food items into place to prevent them from moving around as we try to bite them. Canines have changed in length and in the sharpness of the points over the years based on the main food source that was being consumed and is one of the great indicators of our dietary evolution.
Bicuspid – these are the smaller, molar type teeth that you find next to the canines in the mouth. They are designed to be utilised in the same way as molars to grind and chew food although in modern humans they are mostly used as a way to move food sources back to the lower molars. Early humans who had mainly meat-based diets would have used the bicuspids to further grind the meat after it had been torn off by the incisors.