Portal:Dentistry

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The Dentistry Portal

A dentist performing oral surgery.
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Dentistry is the art and science of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions, diseases, and disorders of the oral cavity, the maxillofacial region, and their associated structures as they relate to human beings. Dentists, also known as 'dental surgeons', are health care practitioners that specialize in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and conditions of the oral cavity. The dentist's supporting team aids in providing oral health services, for example, by utilizing radiography and other equipment to ensure correct diagnosis and treatment planning. Treatment may include filling dental cavities, removing the nerves of teeth during root canal treatment, treating diseases of the gingiva, removing teeth during extractions, and replacing lost teeth with bridges, dentures, and implants. Anesthesia is often used in any treatment that might cause pain. Teeth may be filled with gold, silver, amalgam, or porcelain. There are numerous soft tissue diseases of the mouth that are treated in dentistry. The most common pathologies are periodontitis, trauma, aphthous ulcers, herpes simplex virus and fibromas.

Disease prevention is an important aspect of dentistry. Regular oral hygiene is recommended, using the most common instruments including toothbrushes and dental floss. Limiting the frequency of sugar consumption is usually stressed. The dental significance of fluorides was discovered in the 1930s. Since then water fluoridation and topical applications of fluoride have become valuable tools in the prevention of tooth decay. Please see our medical disclaimer for cautions about Wikipedia's limitations.

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Teeth visible in a smile.
A tooth (plural, teeth) is a structure found in the jaws of many vertebrates that are used to tear, scrape, and chew food. Some animals, particularly carnivores, also use teeth for hunting or defense. The roots of teeth are covered by gums. Teeth are among the most distinctive features of mammal species. Paleontologists use teeth to identify fossil species and determine their relationships. The shape of an animal's teeth is related to its diet. For example, plant matter is hard to digest, so herbivores have many molars for chewing. Carnivores, on the other hand, need canines to kill and tear meat.

Humans are diphyodont, meaning that they develop two sets of teeth. The first set (the "baby," "milk," or "deciduous" set) normally appears at about six months of age, although some babies are born with one or more visible teeth, known as neonatal teeth. Normal tooth eruption at about six months is known as teething and can be quite painful for an infant.

Some animals develop only one set of teeth (monophyodont) while others develop many sets (polyphyodont). Sharks, for example, grow a new set of teeth every two weeks to replace worn teeth. Rodent incisors grow and wear away continually through gnawing, maintaining relatively constant length. Some rodent species, such as the sibling vole and the guinea pig, have continuously growing molars in addition to incisors.

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A mucocele is a swelling of connective tissue consisting of collected mucin from a ruptured salivary gland duct. The cause is usually trauma. It most commonly appears on the lower lip but can also be found on the inner cheek, tongue, and floor of the mouth.

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