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Ottawa > Health > Dentists > Dentist Articles > The Mouth and Teeth Explained

The Mouth and Teeth Explained

 It’s all well and good to take care of your mouth and teeth, but it’s also important to understand what and where everything is! Ottawa dentists feel that a patients understanding of their mouth and teeth will promote further health and awareness. 

Your mouth is one of the most sensitive areas of the body and it should be treated with care to enable your teeth and gums to last a lifetime!

Before we get into the details of your teeth, here’s a picture to help you see where everything actually is. 

 
Teeth- As humans, we have two sets of teeth including the primary (baby teeth) and the permanent (adult teeth). The primary teeth are important for helping the face and jaw to make room for the future permanent teeth. Of course, they are also needed for eating and the overall appearance of the face. Permanent teeth show up around the age of six to eight years old and they are introduced to the mouth in stages. The first are the incisors (front teeth) and then the molars. Next are the premolars and the canines followed by the second molars. Last are the wisdom teeth which can appear anywhere from seventeen to twenty-one years of age and there are cases of them never erupting at all. Teeth have evolved a few different functions to achieve an overall bite. The incisors are used for biting, the canines are used for tearing and the molars/premolars are used for chewing the food. Our teeth are designed to eat both meat and vegetables as we have teeth for grinding (like horses) and piercing/tearing (like tigers) so therefore we are considered omnivorous. 

Saliva
- Your major salivary glands produce a lining of saliva which is intended to keep your mouth moist and lubricated. More saliva is produced when you're eating or drinking which helps you to swallow and then digest your food. Your saliva also has a mild antiseptic which aids in the prevention of infection and the neutralising of acid. 

Gums (Gingiva)- Are part of the soft tissue that lines the mouth. The gums surround the teeth and act as a seal. There are three areas that the gums are divided into and they are: 

Marginal gingiva- the edge of the gums that surround the teeth 

Attached gingiva
- firm and tight around the alveolar bone and yet loose and movable around the alveolar mucosa. 

Interdental gingiva
- occupies the space beneath the area of the tooth. 

The gums should be a healthy (coral) pink in colour and they should be smooth and tightly hugging each tooth. They should also not react to brushing or probing by bleeding or swelling. If this occurs, contact your Ottawa dentist immediately as it could be a warning sign of periodontal disease. 

Tongue- Your tongue is actually the strongest muscle in your entire body! It isn't one muscle but actually it's made up of a few, smaller muscles that all run in different directions. Your tongue actually pushes the food you eat towards the back of the teeth where it can then be grinded up. Your tongue can also taste bitter, sour and sweet tastes by using separate areas of your tongue. For instance, the taste buds on either side of your tongue detect the sour substances, the taste buds at the back taste the bitter and there's receptors for all the other sweet and salty substances.

 

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