Tooth Structure

Figure 3 Tooth Anatomy   [ staff. (2014).  Available from: Accessed 07 July 2022].

All teeth are made up of the same parts: the crown (the visible white part of the tooth), and the root (the section hidden away underneath the gumline). The crown is covered in a substance called enamel which is harder than bone! It protects your teeth from decay, so help it out as much as you can by brushing and flossing regularly. The enamel is supported by a less brittle tissue known as dentine and, since enamel is semi-translucent, the colour of your teeth is determined by the colour of your dentine. This all surrounds the pulp which is located at the centre of your tooth and contains all the nerves and blood vessels.

Dental Formula

Dental formula is a method scientists use to quickly show the typical number of teeth you’d expect to see in a mammal or the family that the mammal belongs to. The number of the different types of teeth is also expressed – incisors (I), canines (C), premolars (P), and molars (M). As teeth are arranged symmetrically in both jaws, the dental formula shows only half the number of teeth on both the upper and lower jaw.

Figure 4 shows the dental formula of a human adult. The letters represent each of the 4 types of teeth as mentioned (above); the top row represents half of your top jaw and the bottom half represents your bottom jaw.

Figure 4 Dental Formula of a Human Adult  [Drawn by Antonia Plummer]

This shows that the adult human has 2 incisors, 1 canine, 2 premolars and 3 molars on one side of both your top and bottom jaw. Adding all these numbers up, gets you 16 and since your dentition is symmetrical, if you double that value, you’ll get the typical number of teeth in a human –  32. However dental formulae vary in different mammals because of their teeth are closely related to their diets.


Mammalian Skulls and Teeth

Tooth Structure and Dental Formulae



Reptile teeth

Carnivore Teeth