Teeth (KS2): Everything You Need To Know

Little girl at dentist smiling and pointing to her teeth.
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Image © Erica Smit under a creative commons licence.

Teeth are those pearly whites inside your mouth that make it possible to eat, talk, and smile.

They are an essential part of KS2 Science lessons because they are so important for our everyday lives. Also, teaching good hygiene to your children can set them up to have a perfect smile for life.

This article discusses everything teeth: what children learn, what teeth are, the different types of teeth, keeping them healthy, and finally some teeth facts for kids.

What Are Teeth Made Of?

Annotated cross-section diagram of the anatomy of a tooth.
Image © Paul Brennan under a creative commons licence

Teeth are a necessary part of KS2 science. Children are introduced to the subject in Year 3 and are taught the different types of teeth, their different functions, and proper hygiene.

The crown is the visible part of the tooth.

Each crown is covered by a very hard substance called enamel and its job is to protect the extremely sensitive inner part of the tooth.

Underneath the enamel is dentin, an extra protective layer over the pulp.

The pulp is the part of the tooth that hurts when you eat something cold or have a toothache. It contains a lot of nerve endings and blood vessels that provide nutrients to the tooth, so it must be protected.

Cementum protects the root of the tooth, and gums are the pink, protective tissue.

Different Types Of Teeth

Humans have up to 32 adult teeth. There are four different types of teeth, each designed to do a certain job:

Annotated diagram of the mouth (oral cavity).
Image © TilmannR under a creative commons licence

Incisors cut your food.

Canines tear your food.

Pre-molars crush food.

Molars grind that food, ready to be swallowed. There are four molars on the top and on the bottom.

We get two sets of teeth over our lifetime. Before our adult teeth come, we have baby teeth (or milk teeth), about twenty of them. Typically, baby teeth grow from three months old, and they should all be out by the age of three.  

At six years old, baby teeth start to fall out and are replaced by adult teeth, which continue to grow until thirteen years of age. Wisdom teeth, at the very back of the mouth, start to grow around seventeen years old, or sometimes not at all. Sometimes they are really painful and need to be pulled out.

Humans have different teeth from other animals. We are omnivores, we eat meat and plants. Herbivores, animals that only eat plants, and carnivores, animals that only eat meat, need different teeth to chew different foods.

How To Keep Your Teeth Healthy

It is so important to look after your teeth and gums. We need them to stay strong so we can keep eating, right?  

Young girl sat in the dentist's chair laughing.
Image © Monstar Studiom under a creative commons licence

Firstly, to keep teeth healthy requires good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day to keep them clean and remove plaque. You can also use floss to clean in between the teeth and mouth wash to keep gums healthy. Visit the dentist for regular check-ups, about every six months, so they may sort out any issues early on. Maintaining a healthy diet is also recommended, this means avoiding sugary foods like sweets and fizzy drinks which can erode the enamel on the teeth.

Without proper care, it can be a real toothache. Improper hygiene may create tooth decay which causes dental cavities, small black holes in the tooth. Tooth decay can be pretty painful and requires dental treatment (ouch!). Furthermore, a build-up of plaque may lead to gum disease.

Facts About Teeth For Kids

  • Over our lifetime, we spend on average nearly 40 hours brushing our teeth.
  • Enamel is the toughest substance found in the body.
  • The side you chew your food with is the same as your dominant hand.
  • Before toothpaste was invented a hundred years back, people used charcoal, lemon juice, and chalk.
  • Finally, your teeth are completely unique. Nobody has the same smile as you.
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