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Children are inquisitive creatures. There’s no shortage of questions when they’re around. They have lots of new foods to taste and a lot of other stuff to get in their mouths. And it’s during this stage that they get their milk and permanent teeth.
So you should be prepared for questions about their teeth. But you don’t need six years of dental school to get the basics.
Here are seven fun things your child needs to know about their teeth.
- Tooth Enamel Is The Body’s Hardest Substance
The enamel is the outer covering of the tooth, the whitish part that we can all see. It may be funny but there’s nothing harder than the enamel in the body. This is because there are lots of calcium and phosphate crystals in there so it’s highly mineralized. If this still sounds unbelievable, there’s a scale with proof.
German mineralogist Frederich Mohs developed a scale that ranked the enamel 5 out of the 1-10 values. This makes it harder than gold, silver and even iron.
- There Are 4 Types Of Teeth
They may look alike but each tooth has something like a mini family it belongs to. And there are four main kinds, the incisors, canines, premolars and molars. Each family with its own job in the mouth.
Your kids would see their incisors first. They’re the first teeth to erupt, usually in the front and center of their mouths and they’re used to take that first bite.
The canines, usually four in number, are the sharpest and are responsible for tearing flesh.
And then the premolars on the side of the jaw. Food needs to be broken down before the latter part of the digestion process begins. So the premolars chew and grind food into a semi-liquid form.
The molars are the last group, more difficult to clean because of their hidden position in the mouth. They complement the premolars by helping to chew, crush and grind food.
- …And Two Sets Of Teeth
They’re called the milk or baby teeth and the permanent teeth. Most kids start having their permanent teeth between ages 6 and 7 years. Both sets need proper dental care but the permanent teeth need more attention if they’re to last throughout the child’s lifetime.
The baby or primary teeth, also called the deciduous teeth are the first set of teeth to appear. They’re usually 20 in number and are all in place at the 21/2 year mark. And babies are not toothless at birth, all twenty primary teeth sit in the jaw waiting for that right moment to appear.
The permanent teeth replace the baby teeth and include eight incisors, four canines, eight premolars and twelve molars.
So, why are there even two sets of teeth?
Simple. The baby teeth help the permanent teeth erupt in their natural spot. So if the primary teeth fall off prematurely, it’d affect development of the permanent set.
- Dental Caries = Dental Cavities = Tooth Decay
Yeah, there’s no difference. Your little one may go through a tooth decay class in school and may want to know about dental caries. But they’re the same thing. Just medical jargon at work. But there’s another thing she should know, how cavities occur.
Dental cavities are caused by bacteria in the mouth that convert sugars from food into acids that damage the tooth resulting in cavities. Of course, that’s not all that happens. Tooth decay only sets in when the acids that demineralize the teeth are not neutralized.
So plaque on the tooth becomes tartar and the advanced stage of that is what’s known as dental caries.
Don’t be confused. Just remember dental caries, dental cavity and tooth decay all mean the same thing.
- There Are Different Layers Of Tooth
You know the visible part of the tooth? The part that can be seen and touched? That’s not all there is to it. The tooth is actually separated into two parts, a crown which we can all see and a root that actually makes up 2/3 of the tooth.
The crown is placed above the gum and is covered by enamel making it the visible part of the tooth.
The root sits in the jaw and is attached to the jawbone so it provides support for the rest of the tooth.
And the enamel isn’t the only part of the tooth. Below the enamel, there’s a dentin, usually yellowish, that sits behind the enamel and provides support for the crown of the tooth.
And then the dental pulp which contains nerves and blood vessels that nourish the tooth.
- Dental Plaque Contains 300+ Bacterial Species
Dental plaque is an accumulation of bacteria on the teeth, and studies put these bacterial species at over 300.
But how do they get there?
There are organisms called oral bacteria. They live in your mouth, whether you like it or not.
But not all of them are harmful bacteria. The bacteria that accumulate in plaque is the harmful one.
It feeds on the sugars in your mouth, combining with saliva to produce enamel-eroding acids. The constant and uncontrolled attack of the enamel by these acids causes tooth decay.
And you should know the major culprit. It’s the bacteria called streptococcus mutans which is primarily responsible for tooth decay.
- And Maybe Some Weird Fun Facts
There are a few strange but true things about the teeth and here are some of them.
- Salivating is the body’s natural response to protect the teeth from the stomach’s harmful acids during vomiting.
- Your teeth are as unique as your fingerprint. And yes, even in identical twins.
- People used charcoal, vinegar, salt and even tobacco before the invention of toothpaste.
- Before the toothbrush, people used rough cloth and water, and bristles attached to a bone or bamboo handle.
- Teeth begin to grow before birth, everything starts in the womb.
- Tooth decay has been linked to other problems like diabetes and heart disease, so dental health isn’t something to neglect.
These facts would keep your little one thinking, so start teaching.
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