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Frequently asked questions to a Dentist York

During our life we have 2 sets of teeth. The first are deciduous teeth (also known as primary, baby or milk teeth), which are later replaced by permanent adult teeth.

Deciduous teeth:

When we are born we already have teeth beneath our gums. These milk teeth (deciduous teeth) begin to appear when we are about 6 or 7 months old and we have 20 of them by about the age of 3. These milk teeth are very important for chewing and speech, as well as helping develop the jaw, so it is important to look after them. Between the ages of about 6 or 7, the roots of these milk teeth dissolve and eventually the tooth falls out. Milk teeth also work as a guide for adult teeth to follow - so even though they drop out it is important to look after them to avoid damage to the adult teeth when they arrive.

Adult teeth

Permanent teeth begin to replace the front deciduous teeth from the age of about 6. For the next 6 to 8 years there is a gradual replacement of milk teeth by adult teeth. This stage is called mixed dentition, as both milk and adult teeth will be in the mouth at the same time. By the age of about 12-14 all adult teeth should have appeared with the exception of wisdom teeth (third molars). At this stage the mouth will contain 28 teeth. These teeth have to last for life as we only get one set.

The teeth are composed of various different elements.

Tooth crown - The visible part of the tooth in the mouth.

Enamel - Enamel is the tough outer coating of the tooth and is the hardest substance in the body and gives the tooth its white appearance.

Dentine - Dentine is the softer structure that comprises the majority of the tooth substance. It is full of tiny tubes that can transmit such signals as hot, cold and painful stimuli to the pulp of the tooth where the nerves and blood vessels are found. It is yellow in colour.

Gums - Firm flesh around the roots of the teeth.

Root - The tooth is like an iceberg – although all we see in the mouth is the crown, beneath the surface, embedded in the bone of the jaw is the complex structure of the root.

Pulp - A soft tissue made up of blood vessels and nerves, which feeds the hard dental tissues. It is often called the dental nerve. The nerves and blood vessels in the pulp are connected to the nervous and circulatory systems of the body.

Cement - The bone-like substance covering the root.

Periodontium - Tissue which keeps the tooth in place.

Jaw bone - The bone which forms the framework of the mouth and which holds the teeth in place.

There are different types of teeth in the mouth with different functions:

Incisors - Thin and sharp, used to cut and slice food.

Canines - Sharp and pointed, used to hold and tear food.

Premolars - Sharp, flat surfaces, to hold and crush food.

Molars - Broad and flat, used to chew and grind food.


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