OUR TEETH

By the time a child is two and a half to three years of age, he has gotten all of his first, or “baby,” teeth. There are twenty of them: ten in the upper jaw and ten in the lower. The two center teeth are called central incisors; the next two on each side of the central incisors are called lateral incisors; the next two on each side of the lateral incisors are called eyeteeth; the next two on each side of the eyeteeth are called first molar teeth; and the next two on each side of the first molar teeth are called second molar teeth.

A child uses these teeth only for a few years, after which time they begin to fall out and second teeth, called , permanent teeth, start to conic in. ages at which baby teeth fall out varies quite a bit.

By the time a child becomes grown up, he or she has thirty-two teeth. The two center teeth are called central incisors; the next two on each side of the central incisors are lateral incisors; the next two on each side of the lateral incisors are canine teeth; the next two on each side of the canines are called first premolar teeth; the next two on each side of the first premolars are second premolar teeth; the next two on each side of the second premolars are first molar teeth; the next two on each side of the first molars are second molar teeth; and the next two are called third molar, or wisdom, teeth.

No one knows why, but the lower baby teeth seem to fall out earlier than upper ones, and the lower permanent teeth usually come in earlier than the upper ones. Of course, it may be different in some children, but eventually all the baby teeth come out and permanent ones come in. Once in a while, baby teeth don’t fall out when they should, and this may delay a second tooth from appearing. When this happens, a dentist may have to pull the baby teeth. It doesn’t hurt much to have a baby tooth pulled, especially one that is almost ready to come out by itself anyway.

Children don’t mind verv much when they lose their baby teeth, even if it means having a big empty space in the front of the mouth. All youngsters understand that the loss of baby teeth is a sign of growing up. As a matter of fact, some children like to lose baby teeth because, when they put one tinder their pillow at night, a Tooth Fairy sometimes comes by, takes the tooth, and leaves some money in its place.

It is natural for a little bleeding to occur when a first tooth is pulled or falls out. This doesn’t cause any trouble, as only a few drops of blood are lost, and the bleeding almost always stops by itself. Parents used to tell youngsters not to keep putting the tongue in the space left behind when a tooth comes out. They used to say that would make the second tooth come in crooked. We now know that this isn’t true, and that no harm results from putting the tongue in the empty space.

Teeth are made of the hardest substance in our body, much harder and tougher than bones. They have to be. Just think of all that chewing three times a day all the years of our lives. But even the toughest teeth get holes, or cavities, if we don’t take care of them properly. And even the strongest teeth can break if we try to chew such hard things as metal coins or stones. So use your teeth wisely. They are meant for chewing foods, and nothing else.

The main parts of a tooth are:

1. The hard enamel covering.
2. Under the enamel is another hard layer called dentine.
3. Beneath the dentine is the soft pulp cavity through which blood vessels nourish the teeth and nerves supply it with feeling.
4. All teeth have roots that go down deep into the bones of the jaw. These roots anchor the teeth solidly to the bone so that they don’t wiggle or become loose.
5. The socket of a tooth is the part of the jawbone that surrounds the roots of the teeth.
6. The gums surround the base of the teeth, and it is very important that they stay healthy and not become infected. If they do become infected, the infection may spread ‘ and damage the teeth. It is also important to brush teeth regularly two to three times each day. This will not only prevent germs from growing beneath the gums, but it will prevent tartar from forming. (Tartar is a yellowish-brown crust that may damage the tooth and the bone that surrounds it, if it isn’t removed regularly. A trip to the dentist twice a year will take care of tartar, but regular brushing of the teeth helps, too.)

Most people are proud of pretty teeth, but, unfortunately, not everyone’s teeth are nice to look at. Although dentists have discovered marvelous ways to make even ugly teeth look prettier, they find it difficult to work on unhealthy teeth. So it is a good idea to keep your teeth healthy while you are young. If they stay healthy but their appearance needs improvement, this can be done when you are older.

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