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Losing baby teeth is a rite of passage that everyone experiences. Teeth are a crucial part of daily life, making it possible to eat and talk. As important as teeth are, it’s a good idea to understand tooth anatomy and overall oral care to set the stage for a lifetime of good dental health. Working with a dentist, it’s possible to make wise choices that will help teeth stay healthy and strong.
Teeth From the Beginning
At birth, a baby’s teeth aren’t visible in the mouth, but the beginnings of the child’s first teeth are present even before a baby is born. Most babies get their first teeth between the ages of six and 12 months. Once the first tooth emerges, more follow it until a child has a full set of teeth, which happens by around 3 years of age. These primary teeth may also be called baby or milk teeth, and kids have 20 in total. By age 5 or 6, the primary teeth begin to loosen and fall out as the permanent teeth gradually move in behind them. After a primary tooth falls out, the permanent replacement will slowly take its place. By the age of 12 or 13, many kids have mouths full of permanent teeth with no baby teeth remaining. The set of permanent teeth total 32, including four additional teeth called wisdom teeth that tend to emerge closer to adulthood, usually between the ages of 17 and 25.
More About Teeth
The part of a tooth visible in the mouth is known as the crown. The crowns of the teeth are covered with enamel, which is hard and shiny. Enamel serves as a protective covering of the teeth to shield the insides from harm. Just under the enamel sits a layer called dentin. Dentin is quite hard, but it’s not as strong as enamel. Dentin covers the pulp inside the teeth, which is the area where the blood supply and nerve endings are found. When a (tooth) hurts, this is where the pain is coming from. The blood vessels inside the pulp are also responsible for keeping teeth alive and healthy. Pulp extends below the gum level into the tooth root. The root of a tooth is made up of cementum, which anchors it to the jawbone.
Types of Teeth
Teeth vary in appearance and function. The teeth in the front of the mouth are incisors designed for cutting and chopping food. Incisors have flat, sharp ends, similar to chisels. Beside the incisors sit the canine teeth, which are sharp and pointy. The canines work to tear at food. Next, the bigger premolars or bicuspids are designed for grinding and crushing food. At the back of the mouth sit the molars, which are the widest and strongest teeth and have added ridges for grinding up food before swallowing it. Molars are designed to work with the tongue to swallow food. The wisdom teeth are the farthest back in the mouth, with one in each corner of the mouth. People often have their wisdom teeth removed, as they’re not needed and can cause problems with the other teeth.
More Than Just Eating
Although biting and chewing up food is a main task of teeth, they are also integrally involved with speaking. Teeth work with the tongue and lips to create sounds. Consonant sounds such as F, V, and J require the teeth: Without them, speaking would sound very different.
Brushing regularly with a fluoride toothpaste is an important part of oral care. You should brush your teeth after eating or at least twice per day, especially before bed. Brushing technique is also important. Moving the toothbrush in circles to hit every surface is ideal. Cleaning between the teeth with dental floss is also recommended. This helps remove food and plaque that stick between teeth. Visiting the dentist on the recommended schedule ensures that any problems will be caught and addressed quickly. Patients often have X-rays and fluoride treatments during dental visits. It’s also a good idea to avoid sugary snacks and beverages to help reduce the chance of tooth decay.
More Information About Teeth
- Tips for Good Oral Hygiene and Healthy Smiles
- How to Keep Your Gums and Teeth Healthy
- Stratford Dentists
- All About Dental Exams
- Toothbrushing Mistakes You Make and How to Fix Them
- Periodontal Disease
- Teeth Facts and Figures
- Stratford Sleep Apnea Treatment
- Treat Your Teeth: Tips for Keeping Your Family’s Smiles Healthy for a Lifetime
- New Year, Healthy Mouth: A Guide to Dental Health Resolutions
- Stratford Children’s Dentist
- Types of Teeth
- Tooth Enamel: Nature’s Crowning Achievement
- Calcium for Strong Bones, Strong Teeth, and a Strong Body (PDF)
- Sugar and Tooth Decay
- How Fluoride Fights Cavities
- Calcium Makes Bones and Teeth Strong (PDF)
- Mineralization of Bones and Teeth (PDF)