Teeth are hard, bony structures that grow from the jawbone. Humans and other animals use their teeth to bite and chew food.

Unlike your brain, your teeth were not ready to work from the day you were born. Although babies start growing their first teeth before they are born, you can’t see them until they are about 6 to 12 months old.


Humans grow two sets of teeth during their lives. The first set has 20 teeth baby teeth. When a child is about 6 years old, these teeth become loose and fall out. Over the next few years 28 permanent teeth replace the baby teeth. When a person is around 20, four more back teeth, called wisdom teeth grow in. Many people have their wisdom teeth removed, so that the others have more space to grow straight.
We have different types of teeth in our mouth. Each one has a different function. The four front teeth are called incisors. They are very sharp and are used for cutting and chopping food. You use your incisors, for example, to crunch the skin of an apple.

The pointy teeth beside them are canine teeth or cuspids. There are four of them, two on top and two on bottom. They help tear and grind food. Teeth with two points are called bicuspids; you have eight of them in all, four on the top and four on the bottom. You need to open your mouth a bit wider to see them. They are bigger and stronger and have ridges that make them perfect for crushing and grinding food.

We have eight back teeth, called molars. They are even wider and stronger than bicuspids and have more ridges. The tongue brings the food to your molars where it is crunched and then swallowed. Wisdom teeth are the last teeth way back in the corner of the mouth. They aren’t used for anything and are often removed because they can cause problems in a person’s mouth. They are called wisdom teeth because they come later on in life when a young person is older and “ wiser”.


Parts of a Tooth


The part of the tooth that you can see is called the crown. The outer part of it is covered with a hard white material called enamel which protects the tooth. It is often hard and shiny and acts as a tooth's bodyguard. It protects the inside parts of the tooth. Below it is dentin, a yellow bonelike material that is softer than the outer part. Dentin makes up the largest part of the tooth.

The centre of the tooth is called pulp. It is soft and contains blood and nerves. When you eat hot soup, bite into cold ice cream, fall or hurt a tooth it’s your pulp that hurts. Nerves in your teeth send signals to the brain about heat, cold or pain. The pulp also keeps the tooth alive.

The soft tissue around the base of each tooth is called gum. The roots of the teeth are below the gums. A tooth can have between one and three roots. A glue- like substance called cementum keeps the teeth connected to the jawbone.



One of the biggest problems with teeth is tooth decay. Bacteria forms in the teeth and eats away tooth enamel. This leads to a cavity or hole in your teeth. It may cause pain and infection. Dentists fill holes with metal or plastic to prevent any damage. Plaque can also make gums red and weak. As time goes on gums can become so soft and weak that teeth can fall out. That’s why we should brush our teeth regularly and go to the dentist at least twice a year to prevent these problems.


How to treat your teeth

Try to brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day. It’s especially important to brush before you go to bed.

The best way to brush is to move in little circles, go around until you have covered every surface of every tooth. You should clean the space between your teeth with a string called dental floss at least once a day. It removes food and plaque that get stuck between them.

You can also prevent problems by eating fewer sugary snacks and drinks that contain sugar. Sugar can hurt your teeth and cause tooth decay or cavities.


Downloadable PDF Text- and Worksheets


Related Topics



  • although =while
  • bicuspid =a tooth that has two points
  • blood vessel = one of the tubes through which your blood flows
  • bodyguard = something or someone that protects you from danger
  • bone =hard part of your tooth
  • bony = parts of the body that are made up mostly of bones
  • brain = the organ inside your head that controls how you feel, think and move
  • canine tooth = one of the four sharp pointed teeth in the front of your mouth , also called cuspid
  • cause = to make something happen
  • cavity = hole
  • cementum =a material that covers the root of a tooth
  • chew = to bite food many times before you swallow it
  • chop =cut up
  • connect = link
  • contain = to have in it
  • cover = here: reach, get to
  • crown =part of the tooth that you can see
  • crunch =crush
  • damage =harm, destroy
  • decay = if something is slowly damaged or destroyed
  • dental floss = a strong string that you use for cleaning between your teeth
  • dentine =the type of bone that your teeth are made of
  • enamel =the hard, smooth outer surface of your teeth
  • especially = above all, very
  • fluoride = a chemical which can help teeth stay healthy
  • glue = sticky
  • grind = to break into small pieces
  • gum = the places of pink flesh at the top and bottom of your mouth where your teeth are in
  • heat =warmth, high temperature
  • in all = all together
  • incisor = one of the eight flat teeth in the front part of your mouth
  • instead of =in something’s place
  • jawbone = one of your bones that your teeth are in
  • loose = not in place
  • molar = one of the large teeth at the back of your mouth used for breaking up food
  • nerve =small thin lines iin your body that carry messages between the brain and other body parts
  • pain =ache, hurt
  • permanent = things that you keep , something that you have forever
  • plaque = a harmful material that can form on your teeth, which bacteria can live on
  • pointy = very sharp
  • prevent = to stop something from happening
  • protect =guard
  • pulp =part of the inside of a tooth
  • regular = here: often
  • remove = to take something away
  • replace =to take the place of
  • ridge =something that is higher than the area around it
  • root =part of a tooth that connects it to the rest of your body
  • set = group
  • shiny = smooth and bright
  • skin = the outer part of something
  • space =room
  • straight =in the right position, in a line
  • stuck = here: to stay in a place so that it is difficult to remove it
  • substance = material
  • surface =the top layer of something
  • swallow = to make food go down your throat
  • tear =rip
  • tissue = the material that forms cells
  • toothpaste = the white cream that you use to brush your teeth
  • unlike = not like
  • wider =broader , not narrow
  • wisdom tooth = one of the four teeth at the back of your mouth that do not grow until you are an adult
  • wise = clever, intelligent