Heterodont according to the anatomy is possession of different type of teeth or morphology. This kind of dentition is common among mammals. The dentition of a species is in line with its adaptation of feeding or hunting for its prey. The different teeth include the canine, incisors, molars and premolars. Each of these is adapted well to their function.
Heterodont animal teeth in vertebrates have a significant difference from that of homodont. In homodont teeth are all of the same forms and are not differentiated according to their function. In invertebrates, teeth of different size and shape are in plate hinges. They are differentiated into cardinal teeth that are situated underneath the umbo and lateral teeth that are located posterior and front to the umbo.
Functions and adaptations of the heterodont teeth
The incisors – these are mainly four teeth situated in the front of the mouth. They serve the purpose of cutting food with their sharp edges. They are single rooted to the gum, the crown is vaulted and is angled to form a protruding a sharp edge.
Canines – these types of teeth are also referred to as the cuspids. They are next to the lateral incisors and are used to grasping, holding on firmly and tearing food. They are usually referred to as the cornerstone of the mouth. They are the most firmly held teeth in the gum having a long root to make them firm for their role.
Premolars – they are also called bicuspids. They grow next to the canines and are normally four in number. They are used for crushing and holding food with their cusps. The first premolars are held on the gum by a bifurcated root while the rest have one root. Possession of cusps is an adaptation to make sure once food is grasp it cannot slip away.
Molars – they are also called the wisdom teeth. They are classified into three different arches, the first molars that are located next to premolars; the second molar then grows next, and the third are the last in the mouth. They serve the purpose of grinding food into fine particles before swallowing.
They have a broad surface to give a broad surface for grinding. They are fitted in the gum by either bifurcated of trifurcated roots. Teeth are heavy and, therefore, require strong muscles to enable them execute their functions correctly. There has been consecutive evolution of the teeth mostly in mammals with respect to their adaptation.