Oral Anatomy for Beginners

In order to support good oral health, it helps to have a basic familiarity with the anatomy of your mouth and teeth. By recognizing healthy mouth development and learning to spot abnormalities, you will have a better chance of sustaining good oral health and detecting the initial symptoms of disease or other oral healthcare problems. 

Catching oral health issues early on will make a huge difference in fixing them before they turn into a larger issue. 

TeethOral Anatomy for Beginners

You wouldn’t be able to eat without your teeth. Babies will develop 20 teeth but by the time they acquire their adult set, they will have 32. There are four different types of teeth in an adult mouth. They are:

  • Incisors: These are your front teeth that you use to bite through tough food such as meat
  • Canines: These teeth are used for ripping food, such as a piece of pizza
  • Premolars: Premolars crush and tear apart food such as vegetables
  • Molars: Molars crush things down into bites small enough to be swallowed and digested

The white portion of your teeth that you can see is known as the crown and the hidden portion of your tooth that is underneath the gums is known as the root.

Your teeth are made up of three different layers:

  • Enamel: This is the external covering that provides a surface for chewing. It protects the other layers.
  • Dentin: This is the middle layer that is comprised of dense tissue. The pulp gives it its blood supply.
  • Pulp: This is the center part of your teeth. It is comprised of blood vessels and soft tissue filled with nerve endings

Every layer of your teeth is essential. Should tooth decay ever erode your enamel and get down into your pulp and dentin, that particular tooth will likely die.


Medically known as gingivae, your gums are the visible soft tissue which shields your jawbone and the roots of your teeth. Normal, healthy gums tend to be more pinkish in color and they serve to hold your teeth where they are supposed to be. The gums of someone with poor oral hygiene usually are discolored, bleed easily, and tend to be very tender. Healthy gums indicate good oral and overall health.


Without this muscle, you would not be able to taste your food. Your tongue is where 100 percent of your tastebuds are located. It is also necessary for swallowing, chewing, cleaning your mouth, and speaking.


The uvula is that boxing-bag shaped piece of soft tissue that drapes down towards the back of your throat. Not a lot about the uvula is known, but scientists believe it plays a role in producing saliva and helps your food to move along your throat.

Your teeth have to be properly maintained if you want to keep your smile both beautiful and functional. The preventative dentistry treatments offered by the Del Mar office of Curtis L. Chan, DDS will help you establish an optimal oral health care routine that you need to make sure your teeth remain healthy and strong. 

For more information on preventative dentistry and your oral health, contact our San Diego office at (858) 481-9090 to schedule an appointment.


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