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A dentist performing oral surgery.
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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Enamel and cementum of a tooth
Tooth enamel is the hardest and most highly mineralized substance of the body, and with dentin, cementum, and dental pulp is one of the four major tissues which make up the tooth. It is the normally visible dental tissue of a tooth and must be supported by underlying dentin. Ninety-six percent of enamel consists of mineral, with water and organic material composing the rest. The normal color of enamel varies from light yellow to grayish white. At the edges of teeth where there is no dentin underlying the enamel, the color sometimes has a slightly blue tone. Since enamel is semitranslucent, the color of dentin and any restorative dental material underneath the enamel strongly affects the appearance of a tooth. Enamel varies in thickness over the surface of the tooth and is often thickest at the cusp, up to 2.5 mm, and thinnest at its border, which is seen clinically as the cementoenamel junction (CEJ).

Enamel's primary mineral is hydroxyapatite, which is a crystalline calcium phosphate. The large amount of minerals in enamel accounts not only for its strength but also for its brittleness. Dentin, which is less mineralized and less brittle, compensates for enamel and is necessary as a support.

Unlike dentin and bone, enamel does not contain collagen. Instead, it has two unique classes of proteins called amelogenins and enamelins. While the role of these proteins is not fully understood, it is believed that they aid in the development of enamel by serving as a framework support, among other functions.

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Human jawbone front.jpg
Credit: Gregory Maxwell

The human mandible is the largest and strongest bone of the face. It forms the lower jaw and holds the lower teeth in place. The mandible consists of a curved, horizontal portion, the body, and two perpendicular portions, the rami, which unite with the ends of the body nearly at right angles.

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