To perhaps have a better understanding of the type of work dentists do, a brief
description of some of the basic facts about teeth and their surroundings might be useful.

First of all, the mouth is a very complex and vitally improtant part of the body. It includes
the lips, tongue, cheeks, teeth and all of the muscles of mastication which, when
encompassed together,are the complete apparatus for manipulating, chewing and
swallowing food and liquids.

Also present are the salivary glands, that make a fluid with a remarkable,chemical
and physilological properties. It is in the mouth where the vital process of food
digestion begins.

Let us not forget that it is through the mouth that we speak, shout, sing, and whistle.
Most people realize that the mouth can experience extreme changes in temperature
ranging from the freezing point of ice cream to the scalding heat from a hot cup of
coffee or tea.

How many of you know that there are hundreds of different kinds of bacteria
(micro-organisms)that live in the oral cavity? The mouth also harbors many types of
plastic , procelain and metallic compounds that are used as dental filling materials.

These compounds, which include metals of varying compositions, when bathed in the
electrolytic saliva, produces an electric current which is referred too as a
GALVANIC REACTION”. The tongue cinsists of extremely, strong, active muscles
which assist in the placement of food for chewing and swallowing and in the formation
of words.

When swallowing, the tongue is assisted by the lip and cheek muscles. The jaw
muscles( muscles of mastication) are extremely powerful. There strength in the body,
are only exeeded by those of the human calf muscles.

The most significant factor in the intr-oral cavity, is the saliva, which is produced in
the salivary glands located in the upper cheek areas and floor of the mouth, under
the tongue.

The saliva lubricates the food, making mastication and swallowing much easier and
helps in the digestion and breakdown of starchy foods.The normal output of saliva is
affected by emotional states as well as hunger, intake of food and other stimuli.

The saliva is an extraordinarily natural chemical buffer which is capable of neutralizing
instantly,both acids and bases, thereby protecting the very sensitive intra-oral tissues
from serious damage. Hence, a gaping hole in the jaw created by an extraction of a
tooth, rarely gets infected, thanks to the protective action of the saliva and enormous
bloodflow to the head.

The area and tissue immediately surrounding the teeth is called the PERIODONTIUM )
( perio-around,dont-tooth). IT consists of the supporting structures of the teeth which
are ; the jawbones, periodontal ligaments, and the gingivae ( GUM TISSUE). When in a
healthy state, these are the tissues that keep the teeth in their natural positions.

Periodontal disease (GUM disease), is in effect,the impairment of the health status of
these supporting tissues. The periodontal ligaments are a series of short ,connective
fibers that attach each tooth root to it’s surrounding bony socket.

That part of the jaw bone that immediately surrounds the teeth and to which the
periodontal ligaments are attached is called the ALVEOLAR BONE. This bone also has
some extraordinary properties compared to other types of bone found in the
human body.

When an exerted pressure is applied to the alveolar jaw bone in one direction, an erosion
of bone can take place and a apposition of bone (laying down of new bone) can occur
on the opposite side and cause the bone to grow and become thicker and stronger. It is
this UNIQUE quality of the jaw bone that allows for crooked teeth to be moved, straightend
and corrected.

These unique properties of the jaw bone also explain the lateral movements and
drifting of teeth that can occur as a result of having a tooth extracted, thereby
creating a space. Such tooth migration, will often result in a malocclusion
or (BAD BITE).

It is this UNIQUE property of the alveloar bone which allows the ORTHODONTIST
specialist, a way to help youngsters and adults with malposed teeth. Malposed teeth
usually result in malocclusions, unsightly and undesireable appearances.

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