Oral hygiene is important to maintain the integrity of the client’s teeth, gum, mucous membrane, and lips. The oral cavity or buccal cavity is comprised of the teeth, tongue and the oral mucosa. This cavity is bounded by the lips in the front, the cheeks on the sides, the mandibles at the floor of the mouth, the palatine bones at the roof and the pharynx at the back. The mouth contains the tongue, the teeth, the gums and the opening of the salivary glands.
The eruption of deciduous teeth (baby teeth) begins approximately at 6 months of age. These deciduous teeth are lost in the childhood and are replaced by a set of permanent teeth (16 in each row) composed of four incisors, two canines, four premolars and six molars.
The teeth consist of three parts:- the crown, the neck, and the root. The root is embedded in a socket (alveolus) in the alveolar process of the jaw bone, then the crown projecting upwards from the gum and the neck between the root and crown, which is surrounded by the gum. Each tooth has dentin, enamel, cementum, and pulp.
- The enamel is the white covering of the tooth.
- The dentin is the sensitive portion surrounding the pulp cavity and it forms the bulk of the tooth.
- The cementum is the bone-like covering of the neck and root.
- The pulp is the soft core of the connective tissue that contains the nerves and blood vessels of the tooth.
The teeth are held in their sockets by connective tissue called periodontal ligaments. The collagenous fibers of each ligament extend from the alveolar bone into the cement of each tooth, allowing some tooth movement during the process of chewing.
The mouth and the teeth play vital roles in mastication (chewing) and also indigestion, which begins in the mouth as food is mixed with saliva for food breakdown and for further digestion. The muscles of the cheeks aid in chewing. The tongue has got taste buds for discerning different tastes of food, and it also helps in mixing saliva with food. Besides this, the tongue aids in swallowing by moving the food towards the pharynx.
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