Dental implants are changing the way people live. They are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth that look and function like natural teeth. The person who has lost teeth regains the ability to eat virtually anything, knowing that teeth appear natural and that facial contours will be preserved.
By the age of 18, the average adult has 32 teeth; 16 teeth on the top and 16 teeth on the bottom. Each tooth in the mouth has a specific name and function. The teeth in the front of the mouth (incisors, canine, and bicuspid teeth) are ideal for grasping and biting food into smaller pieces. The back teeth (molar teeth) are used to grind food up into a consistency suitable for swallowing. The average mouth is made to hold only 28 teeth.
The inside of the mouth is normally lined with a special type of skin (mucosa) that is smooth and coral pink in color. Any alteration in this appearance could be a warning sign for a pathological process. The most serious of these is oral cancer.
Dr. Lesley A. David is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon practicing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She is on staff at Trillium Health Partners and the Mt. SInai Hospital.