Functions of Teeth – Humans use teeth to tear, grind, and chew food in the first step of digestion. Teeth also play a role in human speech. Additionally, Functions of Teeth also provide structural support to muscles in the face and form the human smile and other facial expressions. So, broadly the main functions of the teeth can be summarized as follows:
1. Helps in mastication.
2. Aids in articulation and speech.
3. Gives shape and beauty to the face.
4. Helps in giving facial expressions.
5. Like in animals, it may be used for self- protection and attack.
MASTICATORY Functions of Teeth
One of the main functions of teeth is the mastication of the food, For the proper and faster digestion of the food, the act of swallowing of the food is preceded by its cutting, chopping and grinding by the teeth. So, the first step of digestion involves the mouth and teeth. Food enters the mouth and is immediately broken down into smaller pieces by our teeth. Each type of tooth serves a different function in the chewing process.
Functions of teeth also includes that the Incisors cut foods when you bite into them. The sharper and longer canines tear food. The premolars, which are flatter than the canines, grind and mash food. Molars, with their points and grooves, are responsible for the most vigorous chewing. All the while, the tongue helps to push the food up against our teeth for the proper operation of functions of teeth. As we chew, salivary glands in the walls and floor of the mouth secrete saliva, which moistens the food and helps break it down even more. Saliva makes it easier to chew and swallow foods (especially dry foods), and it contains enzymes that aid in the digestion of carbohydrates.
Once food has been converted into a soft, moist mass, it is pushed into the throat (or pharynx) at the back of the mouth and is swallowed. When we swallow, the soft palate closes off the nasal passages from the throat to prevent food from entering the nose. So, the process of chewing in the oral cavity not only help in tearing the food into swallowable pieces, but also allow the enzymes and lubricants to be released in the mouth to further digest, or break down, food. Without our teeth—which structurally so strong that they are found to be in great condition in fossils, when the body’s skin and bones have disappeared—we’d have to eat nothing but soft, mashed food.
ARTICULATION AND SPEECH Functions of Teeth
The mouth—especially the teeth, lips, and tongue—is essential for speech, one of the very important functions of teeth. The teeth, lips, and tongue are used to form words by controlling airflow through the mouth. The tongue, which allows us to taste, also enables us to form words when we speak. The lips that line the outside of the mouth both help hold food in, while we chew, and pronounce words when we talk.
With the lips and tongue, functions of teeth help form words by controlling air flow out of the mouth. The tongue strikes the teeth as certain sounds are made. The th sound, for example, is produced by the tongue being placed against the upper row of teeth. If your tongue touches your teeth when you say words with the s sound, you may have a slip.
Speech has, during the last 500,000 years, superseded chewing, as main function of the mouth. Simpson (1968) states that “Language has become far more than a means of communication in man. It is also one of the principal means of thought, memory, introspection, problem solving and other mental activities.”
Recently a very experienced dentist who was watching small children shift the tongue to its natural nose breathing position by singing said “We have to come to accept that the mandible is undergoing a change in function. It is no longer designed for chewing, but for speech”.
Human tongues, along with their associated nerves, the respiratory system, and the functions of teeth and lips, are much more versatile than those of other animals, allowing humans the ability to speak unlike any other species on Earth.
Functions of Teeth in FACIAL SHAPE AND BEAUTY
The importance of the face in social interaction is widely recognized. The teeth play an important role in giving facial fullness and aesthetically pleasant facial shapes. Absence of teeth, due to any reason, not only hampers the masticatory activity of the individual, but also affect the facial features to great extend, affecting the concerned person physiologically, emotionally and socially.
Functions of Teeth in FACIAL EXPRESSIONS
Your smile, formed by your mouth at your brain’s command, is often the first thing people notice when they look at you. It is the facial expression that most engages others. With the help of the functions of teeth—which provide structural support for the face muscles—your mouth also forms your frown and lots of other expressions that show on your face.
Facial expressions can set the mood in many situations and usually tell us what people are thinking or feeling. For example, if we walk toward someone with a smile on our face, we are much more inviting than if we wear an expression of a scowl and pursed lips. Without a mouth and its structures, we would not be able to display our emotions through our expressions.
Our lips, teeth, jaws, cheeks, and facial muscles all play an important role in creating facial expressions. We are able to make facial expressions without functions of teeth because of the complex muscular structure of the face. We have 22 muscles on either side of the face; humans have more facial muscles than any other animal.
SELF PROTECTION AND ATTACK
These functions of teeth is not of much importance in the modem era; however it has played a significant role in survival of early man and also in the case of animals. Many carnivorous (meat-eating) animals, such as tigers, have developed long, sharp teeth for clamping down on and killing prey. Beavers have chisel-like front teeth that they use to cut down large trees for building dams.