Feb 20th, 2014

One day she’ll be your “Floss Boss”

You mostly think of your own, how they form a smile, how white they are and probably the dentist and your major fear of him or her, as most people tend to tell me. But…did you forget what they’re mostly there for? Think about it…that’s right – for food! Well, for grinding and breaking it down before you swallow it, that is.

That leads to the next, at least in my opinion, thought: what kinds of teeth are there? What an interesting question to explore: the human mouth has 32 total adult teeth, including:
• 8 incisors (your two front teeth and those adjacent to it, and then the bottom front four)
• 4 canines (the vampire looking ones!)

• 8 premolars (actually called bicuspids – since it has two major grooves)
• 8 molars (the tricuspids, as it therefore has three major grooves)
• 4 wisdom teeth (usually taken out since it disrupts placement of all of the other ones)

You’re probably wondering where I got this information from! While it is probably out there somewhere online, I was lucky enough to learn this during the summer when I shadowed Dr. Gerald Carlo.

But you probably never thought about the teeth in organisms other than humans, right? Yeah, me neither! But it turns out, teeth are quite the evolutionary feature as I learned this past Tuesday during my Ecology and Evolution lab. It was really interesting to observe other animals teeth (my favorite was the horse) though actual skulls of deceased organisms. Some organisms don’t have incisors or canines present in their anatomy, and often have different shaped molars. Why? Because of their diet! Herbivorous animals tend to have less pointed and rigid teeth since they mostly eat plants and vegetables compared to carnivores, who need those sharp teeth to rip, tear and slice the animal they would like to consume. I learned this in lab!

Kara the Floss Boss Horse MouthKara the Floss Boss Horse

What was so great was that after lab, I headed over to the pre-dental club “Bridge the Gap” at UNC Chapel Hill for dentistry students in the North Carolina area to gain insider tips and pointers on having a great application, resume and interview when applying to dental schools. It was super useful, especially because I was able to speak with my “big” Alyssa and some of her friends who are in their first year of dental school, as well as one of the deans on the committee for their dental school! I am so thankful to Dr. Sapp, the pre-dentistry advisor, for helping me get involved in the society. Check out the pictures, and send on over some questions through my Facebook page!

Your (hopefully future) “Floss Boss”
Kara Benkovich