Cheek teeth or post-canines comprise the molar and premolar teeth in mammals. Cheek teeth are multicuspidate (having many folds or tubercles). Mammals have multicuspidate molars (three in placentals, four in marsupials, in each jaw quadrant) and premolars situated between canines and molars whose shape and number varies considerably among particular groups. Cheek teeth are sometimes separated from the incisors by a gap called a diastema.
Roles & Significance
Apart from helping grind the food to properly reduce the size of substrates for stomach enzymes, their minor role is in giving shape and definition to the animals' jaws. The shape of cheek teeth are directly related to their function, and morphological differences between species can be attributed to their dietary variations. Additionally, the shape a cheek tooth can be mechanically worn down based on diet, which is used to provide insights into the consumption habits of fossilized animals. Proper cleaning of cheek teeth is vital for all species of organisms and many species including humans and ruminants keep it on top of their crucial priority list. Dental caries may result from improper care of cheek teeth which is a prominent problem across the globe.
- Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia. Second Edition. Volume 12. Mammals I. Gale 2004
- Austin Community College handout. http://www.austincc.edu/sziser/Biol%201413/1413%20handouts/reptile%20vs%20mammals.pdf
- Fortelius, Mikael (1985). "Ungulate Cheek Teeth: Developmental, Functional, and Evolutionary Interrelations" (PDF). Acta Zoologica Fennica. 180: 1–76. ISBN 951-9481-25-7 – via ResearchGate.net.
- WHO|Oral Health: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs318/en/
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