Human teeth – what are molars and premolars?

The large molars at the end of the rows of teeth are called molars. The small molars or posteriors – the two teeth between the canine and the first large molar – are the premolars.

Molars and premolars: where do these names come from and what do they mean?

The name molar (often molar tooth) comes from the Latin word for millstone (molaris). Molars are the molars, with which the food after biting off is chewed (grated and ground).

The premolars or pre-teeth are also molars, just a little smaller. Their name means "in front of the molars", which is correct in terms of both space and time: the premolars are located further forward in the jaw, and unlike the molars, they already have predecessors in the milk dentition. In humans, premolars also exist as milk teeth, while the molars only occur in permanent teeth.

How many molars and premolars are there in the dentition??

There are 8 molars in the full milk dentition of a child – these are the predecessor teeth of the premolars in the adult dentition. Part of an adult’s permanent dentition 8 premolars and 12 molars, for a total of 20 molar teeth, if you count the wisdom teeth.

However, not all teeth are created in every person. If a tooth system is missing, no tooth grows at this point. Wisdom tooth systems are particularly often absent – in around 50 percent of all people, at least one of the wisdom teeth is not created.

If a premolar or molar is affected, the gap should be closed early with dentures to prevent malpositions. It is different if there are no wisdom teeth: the wisdom teeth are considered to be dispensable in the dentition – they are often referred to as relics from the Neandertal or the Stone Age – and are therefore generally not replaced.

Very rare coming It also suggests that a fourth molar has been created, i.e. a ninth molar tooth is growing. Depending on the space in the jaw and the condition of the remaining teeth, this can mean luck or bad luck.

Structure of the molars and premolars

Their characteristic is the molars large purchase area, which has a relief of cusps (tubercula) and dimples (fissures) for optimally chopping the food. The molars have the largest occlusal surfaces (medically occlusal surfaces) of all teeth in human teeth. In young people, but also in adults with pronounced fissures and increased risk of caries, the dentist can seal the fissures in order to fluoridate and protect the occlusal surfaces.

The smaller premolars (Latin "Dentes prememares") usually have two, less often three bumps. Another name for the pre-grinding tooth is therefore Bikusp >

The molars are Teeth with multiple roots. In humans, the molars in the upper jaw have three roots, sometimes more. The mostly particularly strong root on the palate is called the palatal root; the two smaller roots on the cheek side are called vestibular roots. In order to be able to differentiate and name these two precisely, the front cheek-side root is called medically correct mesio-vestibular and the rear disto-vestibular root. Most dentists, however, shorten this: palatal, mesial and distal roots. It’s easier to say, and every dentist knows what it means anyway.

The lower jaw molars each have two roots, an anterior (mesial) and a posterior (distal). All molars have at least one root canal per tooth root. The fact that there are often more root canals than tooth roots can make root and root canal treatments more difficult. To find and precisely reach the root canals, the dentist can use a special microscope. This is often more helpful in this demanding work than the X-ray images, on which the fine channels, their length and their accuracy course are often barely recognizable.

The wisdom teeth can also be counted among the molars. However, the number of their roots is very variable. Some wisdom teeth have only one tooth root, others two, three, four or even five. Because of their position at the very back of the row of teeth – and because the "figure eight" in the jaw of "modern" people often do not have enough space – the roots of wisdom teeth are often severely deformed, such as crooked, stunted or provided with regular barbs. This can lead to complications when removing the wisdom teeth. But the dentist is already prepared for this, because X-rays are usually taken before a wisdom tooth is extracted or removed.


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Christina Cherry
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