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Furthermore tooth crown morphology (the surface that consists of enamel) can only be changed by attrition (tooth wear), breakage, or demineralization once the crown of a tooth has erupted through the gum line (White & Folkens 2005: 127).As such teeth are often found at locations where human remains are suspected to be buried or otherwise excavated.Teeth, as a part of the dentition, are a wonder of the natural world and come in a variety of forms and designs in vertebrate animals, with perhaps some of the most impressive examples include the tusks of elephants and walruses.

This post marks the final Skeletal Series post to deal explicitly with individual elements of the human skeletal system.Furthermore due to the small size and colour of the 20 deciduous teeth, especially the crowns during the formation and growth of the teeth, may be mistaken for pieces of dirt or rocks.Tooth Anatomy & Terminology The basic anatomy of teeth can be found in the diagram below, but it is worth listing the anatomical features of a typical tooth here.Above information taken from White & Folkens (2005: 130-131).As previously highlighted there are some directional terms that are specific to the dentition, but it is pertinent to repeat some of the key aspects here for clarification as tooth orientation is important – Apical: towards the root.Dentin can only repair itself on the inner surface (the walls of the pulp cavity), but dentin is a softer material than enamel and once exposed by occlusal wear it erodes faster than enamel.The pulp chamber, in the centre of the diagram below, is the largest part of the pulp cavity at the crown end of the tooth. The root of the tooth is the part that anchors it into the dental alveolus tissue (sockets) of the jaw (either the maxilla or mandible).The pulp itself is the soft tissue inside the pulp chamber, which includes the usual trio bundle of vein, artery and nerves (V. Cementum is the bone type tissue that covers the external surface of the roots of teeth.The apex, or apical foramen, is the opening at the end of each root, which allows for the nerve fibers and vessels up the root canal into the pulp chamber.Although primarily used to break down foodstuffs during mastication, teeth can also be used as tools for a variety of extramasticatory functions such as the processing of animal skins and cord production (Larsen 1997: 262).As the hardest of the biological material found in the body teeth survive particularly well in both the archaeological and fossil records, often surviving where bones do not.

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