How Should We Take Care of Our Teeth?
Teeth are invaluable to everyone. They enable you to cut and grind the morsel of food, which is moistened by saliva. You will have heard grown-ups tell small children to “chew the food properly” — as this makes it easier for the stomach to digest the food.
In a lifetime we are given only two sets of teeth. At birth a human baby has no teeth, but normally after six months the first teeth appear in the centre of the lower jaw. By the time the infant is two years old, he is the proud owner of a set of 20 teeth called “milk teeth”.
There are ten in each jaw. At the age of six or seven years these teeth begin to fall out and are replaced with a permanent set of teeth. In addition, three more teeth, the molars, erupt on each side in the back part of the jaw.
The permanent set consists of 32 teeth; among them are the four “wisdom teeth” which are located at the back of each jaw. These wisdom teeth usually erupt during the late teens. The 32 teeth include four incisors (these help to cut food); two cuspids or canines (tear food); four bicuspids (tear and crush food); and six molars (grind food) in each jaw.
The structure of the tooth is as follows: the outer layer of the tooth has a “skin” of enamel. It is mainly calcium phosphate, the hardest mineral substance in the body. Since the enamel contains no nerves, it is insensitive to pain.
Under the enamel comes the dentine, which is related to the bone. Tooth sensitivity begins here. Beneath the dentine lies the pulp, a relatively soft material containing nerves, blood vessels and cells that radiate into the dentine.
The reason why teeth do not fall out easily is because they are anchored by “cementum”, a bony tissue, and thousands of fibres. Did you know that the most common disease in the world is tooth decay? Careful brushing and careful cleaning between teeth is essential. Remember to visit the dentist twice a year for professional cleanings and checkups.
The key to keeping a bright, healthy smile throughout adulthood is to practice proper oral hygiene. Even adults can get cavities, as well as gum disease, that can lead to serious problems. Throughout your adult life, it’s important to continue to:
Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque-the sticky film on your teeth that’s the main cause of tooth decay.
Floss daily to remove plaque between your teeth and under your gum line, before it hardens into tartar. Once tartar has formed, it can only be removed by a professional cleaning.
Limit sugary or starchy foods, especially sticky snacks. The more often you snack between meals, the more chances you give the acids in plaque to attack your tooth enamel.