Our teeth – under pressure from all sides
They shred tons of food, withstand extreme pressure and are still highly vulnerable – a short lesson in dentistry.
People normally have 32 teeth. Each of them works hard and is constantly under attack. Just by chewing food, forces of up to 30 kg are exerted on the tooth – a few thousand times per day.
Strongly built, well anchored
Teeth have different tasks: the incisors help to separate the food. The canines are used to bite off chewy foods, these are the strongest teeth with the longest roots and crowns. The front small back teeth (premolars) hold the food and chop it roughly, and the large rear molar teeth have the task of grinding food completely. They have to bear the greatest pressure of chewing and are anchored by a number of branching roots.
Natural teeth are built correspondingly well. Enamel, the outermost layer of the tooth crown is composed of the hardest substance in the human body. The main components are calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate, which achieves its special hardness from the incorporation of fluorine.
The gum protects the sensitive tooth neck and holds the tooth in the jawbone. The body’s own saliva acts as a natural detergent, firstly rinsing away bacteria and food particles and secondly forming a protective layer – the pellicle as it is known – with its enzymes and thus keeping harmful bacteria at bay.
And yet vulnerable
For all the superlatives: teeth can be easily attacked. Bacteria produce acids that dissolve the minerals from the tooth enamel. However, acids from food such as fruit juices are neutralized by saliva in turn. Therefore it makes sense to wait about 30 to 60 minutes after eating to brush your teeth until the saliva has performed this task.
Even highly abrasive toothpastes i.e. ones with very coarse cleaning granules attack the tooth enamel over time. Exposed tooth necks in most cases are the result of excessively vigorous scrubbing with hard brushes: slowly but surely the gum recedes.