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Health and Fitness in Baltimore, MD

Oral Hygiene - Brush Your Teeth!

You can learn to take better care of your teeth by understanding the structure of the teeth and their environment. The mouth, or oral cavity, includes the lips, teeth, gums, tongue, salivary glands, and the lining of the cheeks. Although the main function of the teeth is to chew the food to make it more digestible, the teeth are also necessary for human speech. Sibilant sounds such as the letter "S" are produced by releasing air between the teeth to produce a hissing sound. The tongue has muscles that help to position food so that it can be chewed properly. The tongue also has receptors for taste, called taste buds. During chewing, the salivary glands release saliva containing enzymes, such as amylase, that break down complex carbohydrates into digestible sugars. It is important to practice good dental hygiene to avoid tooth decay and gum diseases.

Child Brushing
Teach children to brush
while they still have
their milk teeth.
  Tooth anatomy
Tooth Anatomy

Child smiling

Milk Teeth
Humans have two sets of teeth. The first set, called milk teeth, start to show when babies are six or seven months old. Most children have a full set of 20 milk teeth by age three. Starting at around the age of five or six, the first set of teeth starts to be pushed out by the permanent teeth, and by the age of 14 all the milk teeth have generally been replaced by a full set of 28 permanent teeth. Around age 20, four more teeth grow in the back of the mouth to complete the adult set of 32 teeth.

Children should learn to take care of their teeth while they still have their milk teeth. In this way, they will know how to avoid cavities and gum diseases when they have their permanent teeth. It is important to have a dental exam and dental cleaning at least once per year. Regular visits to the dentist will help to identify and correct problems at an early stage.

Tooth Composition
Teeth and bones consist mainly of an inorganic calcium phosphate mineral called apatite. The most common form of apatite in teeth is hydroxyapatite, Ca5(PO4)3OH. However, the hydroxyl groups are frequently replaced by fluoride (F-) ions to form fluorapatite, Ca5(PO4)3F. Fluorapatite is more resistant to cavities than hydroxyapatite. Tooth enamel consists of approximately 96% inorganic material, whereas dentin, the material under the tooth enamel, consists of 70% of inorganic material and the rest is mostly collagen which acts as a binder. Teeth are formed by specialized cells that stimulate mineralization through specific proteins. Odontoblast cells which are in the pulp of the tooth secrete dentin throughout life, but ameloblast cells, which produce enamel, are only active before the teeth erupt in the jaw. For this reason, enamel lost by abrasion or decay cannot be regenerated.

Avoid abuse and injuries
Although teeth are the hardest part of the human body, they can be damaged by using them improperly. Chewing on hard o...
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