Teeth - Encyclopedia

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TEETH (O.E. te]9; plural of tooth, O.E. top), the modified papillae or elevations of the mucous membrane of the mouth, impregnated with lime salts. Each tooth has a biting part or crown covered by enamel, a neck where the gum surrounds it, and one or more roots or fangs fitting into sockets (alveoli) in the jaw bone. For surgery of the teeth see Dentistry.

There are thirty-two permanent teeth in man, sixteen in the upper and sixteen in the lower jaw; they are also arranged in symmetrical sets of eight teeth on each side. The two teeth on each side of the mid-line in front are " incisors " and have chisel-shaped crowns. The mesial or central incisor of the upper jaw is broader than any of the others, consequently it bites against the central and lateral incisors of the lower jaw, and the same want of exact adaptation continues throughout the series, so that every tooth in the upper jaw except the last molar bites against its corresponding tooth of the lower jaw and the tooth behind that.

Next to the incisors comes the " canine tooth," the crown of which is somewhat peg-shaped, while behind this are the two " premolars " or " bicuspids," whose crowns are flattened from before backward and bear two cusps, the larger of which znd molar molar molar Central incisor Canine 2nd premolar 2nd molar From Ambrose Birmingham, in Cunningham's FIG. I. - The Permanent Teeth of the Right Side, Inner or Lingual Aspect.

The upper row shows the upper teeth, the lower row the lower teeth cingulum is distinct on the upper incisors and both canines, the cusp on the upper lateral incisor and the upper canine.

is the external or labial cusp, while the smaller is the internal or lingual. As a rule there is a single root, though sometimes in the first upper premolar it is double.

The three " molars " are placed behind the premolars, and the upper and lower sets can be easily distinguished because the upper have three roots while the lower have only two. Of the three roots which the upper molars bear two are lateral or external and one mesial (see fig. r), so that it is easy to tell the outer from the inner side of an upper molar. The front can, as a rule, be identified by the fact that the roots are generally bent a little backward at their tips, and this applies to other teeth than the upper molars. In the lower jaw, owing to the two fangs being anteroposterior, it is not possible to tell the lateral from the mesial surface of the molars by them, although the backward inclination of their tips shows the front from the back. When it is remembered that the upper teeth overlap the lower externally it is reasonable to expect that the lower molars would show some rounding due to wearing away of the edge of the crown on the outer side, and this is the case. The grinding surface of the crowns of the upper molars shows three or four cusps, while on that of the lower four or five are found.

Of the three molars the first is the largest, and the third, or wisdom tootle, the smallest, while the upper wisdom tooth is smaller than the lower.

In the " milk teeth " or temporary dentition of the child there are only twenty teeth, ten in each jaw and five in each segment. They are two incisors, one canine, and two so-called molars. These molars occupy the position which the permanent premolars later on take, and it is held by many that the adult molars really belong to the milk dentition, although they cannot appear until the jaw has grown backward sufficiently far to make room for them. The temporary teeth differ from the permanent in their smaller size, their whiter colour, the greater constriction of their necks, and in the fact that the roots of the molars are widely splayed.

The dates at which the milk teeth are cut are very variable. The lower central incisors come first between the sixth and ninth month, or even later; then, after a 'few months, come the central and lateral upper incisors; again a few months' rest and the lower lateral incisors appear, followed closely by the first molars. After another rest of four or five months come the canines, the eruption of which is a slow process, while by about the end of the second year molar the second molars have appeared, and the milk dentition is complete. It will be seen from the above that the milk teeth are cut in batches with resting intervals between.

As C. S. Tomes points out, we do not know what causes the eruption of the teeth; the growth of the roots is not of itself enough to account for it. It is possible, however, that blood-pressure may be the determining cause. The first permanent tooth to be cut is the first molar, and this happens during or soon after the sixth year. It does not displace any of the milk teeth, but comes down behind the second milk molar. During the seventh year the central milk incisors fall out and their place is taken by the permanent ones; the shed teeth are mere shells of the crown, all the root having been absorbed, though not, as might be thought, owing to direct pressure of the succeeding tooth.

The lateral incisors succeed their milk predecessors at molar about eight years old, the first premolar takes the place of the first temporary molar about nine, the second premolar that of the second temporary molar about ten, the canine about eleven, while the second molar comes down behind the first about twelve, and so is known as the " twelve-year-old tooth." The third molar, or wisdom tooth, usually appears between eighteen and twenty, but may be much later, indeed it is sometimes never cut at all, and when it is, it often does not come down to a level with the other teeth. It is believed that man is gradually undergoing a suppression of his last molar teeth, which, if the process continue, will lead to our successors having a different dental formula from our own. It is interesting to notice that 1st molar Canine Lateral incisor Central incisor Central incisor Lateral incisor Canine 1st molar From Ambrose Birmingham, in Cunningham's FIG. 2. - The Milk Teeth of the Left Side.

The masticating surfaces of the two upper molars are shown above. In the second row the upper teeth are viewed from the outer or labial side. In the third row the lower teeth are shown in a similar manner; and below are the masticating surfaces of the two lower molars. In the specimen from which the first upper molar was drawn the two outer or buccal cusps were not distinctly separated, as is often the case.

50 ? ?

in some of the lower races of mankind the last molar tooth is nearly as large as those in front of it, and this is the case in the anthropoid apes. A. Keith and D. Braden Kyle have pointed out that the second and third molar teeth are successively formed in the posterior wall of the maxillary antrum 3rd 3rd. The lingual Central incisor Canine: and premolar Lateral incisor k 1 st premolar Lateral and molar crown 2nd molar crown and their crowns look backward. It is owing to the gradual growth backward of this antrum and the maxilla that they are rotated round a quarter of a circle and so at last look downward (see A. Keith, British Journal of Dental Science, vol. xlv., June 16, 1902).

Extra teeth are occasionally met with in the incisor, premolar and molar regions; their significance will be better realized after the embryology and comparative anatomy of the subject have been sketched.

For an accurate and detailed description of man's teeth see A Manual of Dental Anatomy, by C. S. Tomes, London, 1904.1904.


If a section be made vertically through a tooth all the exposed part or crown is seen to be covered with enamel, which, microscopically, is composed of a number of fine hexagonal prisms arranged at right angles to the surface of the tooth, and formed chiefly of calcium phosphate with small amounts of calcium carbonate, magnesium phosphate and calcium fluoride, but containing practically no organic matter. The enamel rests on the " dentine," of which hard yet elastic substance by far the greater part of the tooth is composed. It is made of the same salts as the enamel, but contains in addition a good deal of organic matter and forms a structureless mass through which the fine " dentinal tubes " run from the pulp cavity to the periphery.

Surrounded by the dentine is the " pulp cavity," which is filled by the tooth pulp, a highly vascular and nervous mass of branched connective tissue cells, which, in a young tooth, has a layer of epithelial cells, the " odontoblasts, " lying close against the wall of the cavity and forming new dentine. Slender processes (" Tomes's fibrils ") project from these cells into the dentinal tubes, and are probably sensory. A nerve and a%tery enter the apex of the root of the tooth, but it is not understood how the nerve ends.

Surrounding the dentine where it is not covered by enamel is the " cement " or " crusta petrosa," a thin layer of bone which is only separated from the bony socket by the alveolar periosteum.


The lip is marked off from the rest of the mouth region by a " lip groove," which, in the case of the lower jaw, grows obliquely downward and backward, and the mass of ectodermal cells bounding it penetrates for some distance into the surrounding mesoderm below the bottom of the groove. This is known as the " tooth band." On the under surface of this oblique tooth band (still taking the lower jaw), and close to its edge, appear ten thickenings, below each of which the mesoderm rises up into a " dental papilla," and so moulds the thickening into a cap for itself - the " enamel organ." The superficial cells of the dental papilla become the " odontoblasts " and manufacture the dentine, while those cells of the cap (enamel organ) which are on its concave surface and therefore nearest the dental papilla are called " ameloblasts," and form the enamel. The cutting or grinding part of the tooth is first formed, and the crown gradually closes round the dental papilla, so that at last, when the root is formed, the central part of the papilla remains as the pulp cavity surrounded by dentine except at the apex of the root. The roots, however, are formed slowly, and as a rule are not complete until some time after the tooth is cut. The mesoblastic connective tissue surrounding the developing tooth becomes condensed into a fibrous bag which is called the tooth-sac, and round this the lower jaw grows to form the alveolus. The crusta petrosa which covers the root is developed from the tooth-sac. It will therefore be seen that, of the various structures which make up a tooth, the enamel is derived from the ectoderm, while the dentine, pulp and crusta petrosa or cement are mesodermal.

So far only the milk dentition of the lower jaw has been accounted for.

Returning to the tooth band, it was noticed that the enamel organs were formed not at the extreme edge but a little way from it. From the extreme edge, which, it will be remembered, points inward toward the tongue, the permanent tooth germs are derived, and it is therefore clear that the permanent teeth must come up on the lingual side of their milk predecessors.

For further details and literature see Dental Anatomy, by C. S. Tomes, London, 1904; and Development of the Human Body, by J. P. McM urrich, London, 1906.

Comparative Anatomy.

The details of the teeth vary so greatly in different animals and groups of animals, and, on account of their being the most durable tissues 9 f the body, are so important for classificatory purposes, that they are dealt with freely in the various zoological articles. All that can be done here is to give a broad general survey of the subject, taking the details of man's dentition, already set forth, as a point of departure.

In some fishes the teeth are continuous over the edges of the jaws with the scales on the surface of the body, and there is no doubt that teeth should be regarded as modified scales which have migrated into the mouth.

In the Cyclostomata (lampreys and hags) the teeth are horny cones, but beneath them there are papillae of the mesoderm covered with ectoderm which resemble the dental papillae and enamel organs although no calcification occurs except in Bdellostoma. In the Elasmobranchii (cartilaginous fishes) the teeth are arranged in several rows, and as those of the front row fall out the hinder row take their place; sometimes they are triangular and very sharp as in the sharks, sometimes flattened and arranged like a pavement for crushing as in rays. These teeth only represent the crowns of man's teeth, and they are not embedded in sockets except in the case of the teeth in the saw of the saw-fish (Pristis); moreover the dentine of which they are largely composed resembles bone and fills up the whole pulp cavity. From its structure it is known as osteodentine. In the Teleostomi (teleostean and ganoid fishes) there is great variability; sometimes, as in the sturgeon, there are no teeth at all, while at others every bone bounding the mouth, including the branchial arches, bears teeth. As an example of a very full tooth armature the pike's mouth and pharynx may be instanced. Both in the pike and the hake hinged teeth occur; these bend backward during the passage of prey down the throat, but are re-erected by elastic ligaments. As a rule, the dentine of the Teleostomi is of the variety already described as osteodentine, but sometimes, as in the hake, it is vascular and is known as vasodentine.

In the Amphibia teeth are not so numerous as in the fishes, though like them they are not confined to the jaws, since vomerine teeth are very constant. The toad is edentulous, while the frog has no teeth in the lower jaw. An extinct order of tailed amphibians, the Stegocephali, are often called labyrinthodonts on account of the complex way in which the enamel is involuted into the interior of the teeth. Amphibians' teeth are usually anchylosed to the jaw, that is to say, directly united by bone.

In the Reptilia many and various arrangements of the teeth are found. In the Chelonia (turtles) there are no teeth, although the ectodermal ingrowth (dental band) from which they are developed in other animals is present in the embryo. The place of the teeth in these reptiles is taken by horny jaw-cases.

In the Ophidia the non-poisonous snakes have two rows of teeth in the upper jaw, one on the maxillae and another on the palatine and pterygoid bones, while in the lower jaw there is only one row. These teeth are sharp pegs anchylosed to the bones and so strongly recurved that one of these snakes would be unable, even if it wished Enamel Dentine Pulp cavity Guts Done Cement or Alveolar periosteum crustapetrosa or root-membrane From Ambrose Birmingham, in Cunningham's Text-Book of Anatomy. FIG. 3. - Vertical Section of Canine Tooth, to illustrate its various parts, and its structure.

to do so, to let any prey which had once entered its mouth escape. The poisonous snakes have a special poison fang in the maxilla of each side; these have a deep groove or canal running down them which transmits the poison from the poison gland. In the colubrine snakes, such as the cobra, the poison fang is always erect, but in the viperine, such as our own adder and the rattlesnake, there is a mechanism by which the tooth is only erected when the jaws are opened for striking. At other times the teeth lie flat in the roof of the mouth.

In the lizards or Lacertilia the teeth usually consist of a series of pegs in the upper and lower jaw, each resembling the one in front of it; sometimes, as in the chameleon, they are anchylosed by their bases to the bone, but at others, as in the iguana, they are fused by their sides to a ridge of bone which forms a low wall on their lateral surface. In the former case the dentition is spoken of as " acrodont," in the latter as " pleurodont." In the Crocodilia the teeth are fitted into definite sockets as in mammals and are not anchylosed with the jaws. This arrangement is spoken of as " thecodont." Existing birds are toothless, but palaeontology shows that they originally had teeth of a reptilian character.

In all these lower vertebrates, then, the teeth are similar or nearly similar in character; at least they are not divided into definite incisor, canine, premolar and molar regions. Their dentition is therefore known as " homodont." Another characteristic is that in almost all of them there is an arrangement for a continuous succession of teeth, so that when one is lost another from behind takes its place, and to this arrangement the term " polyphyodont " is applied. With a few exceptions a homodont dentition is also polyphyodont.

In the Mammalia the different groups of teeth (incisor, canine, &c.) already noticed in man are found, and these animals are characterized, with some exceptions, by having a " heterodont " as opposed to a homodont dentition. In the mammals too the polyphyodont or continuous succession of teeth is reduced to a " diphyodont " dentition, which means that there is only one relay of teeth to replace the first set. In the marsupials the reduction of the succession is carried still further, for only one premolar in each segment of the jaw is replaced, while in the toothed whales there is no succession at all. When one set has to do duty throughout life the dentition is called " monophyodont." There is a great deal of discussion as to how the complex back teeth of mammals with their numerous cusps were derived from the simple conical teeth which are generally assumed, though not by all, to have been the primitive arrangement. One simple way of accounting for the change is by the concrescence theory, namely that several conical homodont teeth have fused and so formed a single multitubercular tooth; but, although this process may be partly true, it does not account for all the facts at our disposal. Another theory, which is more favoured at the present time, is known as the " tritubercular," and is largely based on the researches of E. D. Cope and H. F. Osborn, two American palaeontologists. According to this theory a simple peg-like, or, as it is called, ' ` haplodont," tooth develops two additional smaller pegs or cones, one in front and one behind the original main cone, possibly owing to the irritation of the teeth against which it bites in the other jaw. This is known as the triconodont stage, and it is found in some of the oldest extinct mammals. As a later adaptation it is found that the two small cones, the anterior of which is called the " paracone " and the posterior the " metacone," become external to the original " protocone " in the upper jaw and internal in the lower.

The surface of the tooth has now a triangular shape with a cone at each angle, and this is the " tritubercular tooth " which is of very common occurrence among the ancestral mammals. Other cusps may be developed later, and so the quadricuspid and quinquecuspid molar teeth of man and other mammals are accounted for. This theory, although in a brief outline it sounds feasible enough, has really many points of difficulty, and those who are interested in the subject will find a fuller account in C. S. Tomes' Dental Anatomy (London, 1904), and in W. L. H. Duckworth's Morphology and Anthropology (Cambridge, 1904), in both of which references to the original literature, which is now very voluminous, are given. Marett Tims (J. Anat. and Phys., vol. xxxvii. p. 131) suggests that the evolution of the mammalian teeth is to be explained partly by the tritubercular and partly by the concrescence theory.

It is impossible, in the space assigned, to give even a brief review of mammalian odontology, but it may clear the ground for the special zoological articles if an attempt is made to define what is meant by the different classes of teeth.

Incisor teeth are those which in the upper jaw have their sockets in the premaxillary bone; they are generally chisel-shaped, and with their opponents of the lower jaw act like scissors. They are specially well marked in the rodents, and in these animals the pulp throughout life continues to form fresh dentine, so that the teeth are ever growing, and it is absolutely necessary for their owners to be continually gnawing in order to wear them away at their cutting edges. The tusks of the elephant and the single tusk of the male narwhal are modified incisors, while in the ruminants the incisor teeth are wanting in the upper jaw.

The canine tooth is the first tooth behind the premaxillo-maxillary suture, provided it be not far behind it; it is almost always the first of the premaxillary series, speaking accurately, which is elongated and sharply pointed. As its name implies it is well marked in dogs and other Carnivora, but is found in many other orders. It is the special offensive and defensive weapon of many mammals, and is greatly developed in some of the ungulates which are without horns, e.g., the musk deer. The tusks of the walrus and wild boar are canines. In many of the Insectivora, especially the mole, the canine is very hard to identify, as in these animals an incisor or a premolar may take on caniniform characters, or there may be no tooth at all with these characters.

The premolar teeth are those in the maxillary bone which are preceded by milk teeth. This definition, of course, includes the canine as a modified premolar, and so it should no doubt be considered, though, if it is desired to keep it distinct, " behind the canine " must be added.

Unfortunately for an accurate definition the first premolar behind the canine is not always preceded by another tooth, and so it becomes an unsettled question whether, in these cases, the tooth is a retained milk tooth or a permanent one which has had no predecessor; it is probable, however, that the latter is the right interpretation.

The molar teeth are those, behind the premolars, which are not preceded by temporary teeth. As was pointed out, in man's dentition they are probably teeth of the first or milk dentition which appear late.

In front of the premolar teeth, and between them and the canine, if it be present, or the incisors, if it be absent, there is often a space called the " diastema." It is best marked in the orders of Rodentia and Ungulata, and in the horse is familiar as the place where the bit lies.

In recording the teeth of any particular mammal it saves time and space if a dental formula be used. This simply means setting down the number of each kind of tooth in one side of the upper and lower jaw in their order from before backward. Thus man's formula would be, incisors 2, canines I, premolars 2, molars 3. This is con densed into Some other types of dental formulae are Catarrhine (old world) monkeys Platyrhine (new world) monkeys Marmosets Most lemurs or Insectivorous bats (full series) (The upper incisors and both premolars may be reduced by one) Frugiverous bats .

(The molars may be reduced) Insectivora (teeth variable and somewhat uncertain) Hedgehog Mole .

(Five different dental formulae have been assigned to this animal) Carnivora Cat family (Felidae) Dog family (Canidae) Bear family (Ursidae) Civet family (Viverridae) Racoon family (Procyonidae) S Hyaena family (Hyaenidae) Weasel family (Mustelidae) Eared seal family (Otariidae) Seal family (Phocidae) Walrus family (Trichechidae), adult In a young animal (probably) 2.1. 3.3 or 2 Hippopotamus Pig family (Suidae). Camel Chevrotain (Tragulidae) Deer family (Cervidae) Hollow-horned ruminants (Bovidae) (0-2).0.4.3 (o -i).(o-1).4.3 (1-2).0.4.3 d. i. i. i. i. c. o. d. m. (3-4) m 3000 (3-4) 3 In this animal there are no premolars, but the milk molars (d.m) and true molars gradually replace one another from before backward throughout life, so that there are never more than two back teeth in each segment of the jaw at any one time.

Rodentia- I.O. (o-I).3 1.0.(o-i).3 Cetacea. - In the living toothed whales (Odontoceti) the dentition is homodont and may be as great as There is every reason to believe, however, that they are derived from heterodont ancestors. In the whalebone whales (Mystacoceti) the teeth are replaced by the whalebone in the adult, but in the embryo slightly calcified teeth are present which are afterwards absorbed.

The homodont dentition of the whales is a retrograde process, and is therefore not comparable to the homodont dentition of the vertebrates below mammals.


The dentition is monophyodont. The manatee has i. a, c. (2, back teeth II. 2 0 II In the Edentata the ant-eaters (Myrmecophagidae) and pangolins (Manidae) are toothless, though the latter have foetal tooth germs. The aard varks (Orycteropodidae) are somewhat heterodont, while the armadillos (Dasypodidae) and sloths (Bradypodidae) have a homodont dentition, which, like that of the whales, is retrogres sive. In the giant armadillo (Priodon gigas) the formula is ?5This animal therefore has a hundred teeth. In none of the Edentata are the teeth covered with enamel.

In the Marsupialia the typical formula is 3'1'3'4' They are y divided into diprotodont, in which there are not more than 3 incisors, often - 3 in kangaroos, and polyprotodont, in which the incisors are more than 3, as in the Tasmanian wolf (Thylacinus) and Tas` manian devil (Sarcophilus). The marsupial teeth are often regarded as all milk teeth, yet the order is not really monophyodont because the germs of the permanent teeth are formed and aborted. Modern research, however, casts grave doubt on the accuracy of this view.

In the Monotremata the Echidna or spiny ant-eater is quite edentulous, while the duck-mole (Ornithorhynchus) has functional molar teeth in youth, though in the adult these are lost, and their place is taken by horny plates.

Reviewing the various tooth formulae of mammals the following is usually regarded as typical: This, it will be noticed, is the formula of the pig, and it is also that of almost all the Eocene Ungulata. Although the majority of mammals are diphyodont, or, in other words, the working teeth belong to two dentitions, evidences have lately been submitted of vestiges of two other series, one on the labial side of the milk teeth and one on the lingual side of the permanent series. If these are substantiated there would be four dentitions - (i) premilk; (2) milk; (3) permanent; (4) post-permanent. The theory, though it bridges over the gap between the polyphyodont lower vertebrates and the apparently diphyodont mammals, is not by any means established. As the teeth are of such importance in the classification of animals, it will save continually repeated explanations in other articles if some of the chief terms by which they are described are recapitulated and briefly defined here.

i. Acrodont, a tooth which is anchylosed by its base to the summit of a parapet on the jaw.

2. Bilophodont, a molar tooth having two transverse ridges on its grinding surface, as in the tapir.

3. Brachyodont, a low-crowned molar tooth - the opposite of hypsodont.

4. Bunodont, a tooth bearing conical cusps.

5. Diphyodont, having two series of teeth (milk and permanent).

6. Diprotodont, a marsupial with not more than 3 incisors, often only one on each side of the mandible.

7. Haplodont, a tooth having a simple conical crown with a single root.

8. Heterodont, a dentition in which the teeth are not all alike, chiefly characteristic of the Mammalia.

9. Homodont, a dentition in which the teeth are all alike as in many of the lower vertebrates and some mammals.

10. Hypsodont, a high-crowned molar tooth, such as that of the horse, - the opposite to brachydont.

II. Lophodont, a transversely ridged molar tooth; cf. bilophodont.

12. Monophyodont, having only one dentition (cf. diphyand polyphy-odont).

13. Multituberculate, a tooth, the crown of which bears numerous conical cusps; held by some to be the primitive condition of the mammalian teeth.

14. Pleurodont, a tooth anchylosed to the inner side of a parapet on the jaw.

15. Polybunodont, a synonym for multituberculate.

16. Polyphyodont, having an endless succession of teeth, as in most vertebrates below the mammals.

17. Polyprotodont, a marsupial having an incisor formula of more than 3 18. Protodont, a stage met with in fossil mammals which is an advance on the haplodont tooth in that two small cusps are added to the main cone.

19. Secodont, a back tooth adapted to cutting as in many of the Carnivora.

zo. Selenodont, a molar tooth with crescentic ridges on its grinding surface as in most ruminants.

21. Thecodont, a tooth embedded in a socket or alveolus, as in mammals.

22. Triconodont, a fossil stage in advance of the protodont. There are three well-marked cones in an antero-posterior line.

23. Tritubercular, a fossil stage succeeding the triconodont. The main cone is external in the lower teeth and internal in the upper. A very common form of back tooth in fossil forms and one which gives its name to the " tritubercular theory." (F. G. P.)

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