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Close-up of patient’s open mouth during oral checkup with mirror

The human teeth function to mechanically break down items of food by cutting and crushing them in preparation for swallowing and digesting. Humans have four types of teeth: incisors, canines, premolars, and molars, which each have a specific function. The incisors cut the food, the canines tear the food and the molars and premolars crush the food. The roots of teeth are embedded in the maxilla (upper jaw) or the mandible (lower jaw) and are covered by gums. Teeth are made of multiple tissues of varying density and hardness.

Humans, like most other mammals, are diphyodont, meaning that they develop two sets of teeth. The first set, deciduous teeth, also called “primary teeth”, “baby teeth”, or “milk teeth”, normally eventually contains 20 teeth. Primary teeth typically start to appear (“erupt”) around six months of age and this may be distracting and/or painful for the infant. However, some babies are born with one or more visible teeth, known as neonatal teeth or “natal teeth”.

 

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