Oral Health

Teeth and gums reveal the inside story of your overall health.

A. Baby Teeth

A child’s mouth contains 20 temporary teeth, called primary teeth, baby teeth, or deciduous teeth, consisting of the following teeth types:

  1.  4-second molars
  2.  4 first molars
  3.  4 cuspids (also called canine or eye teeth)
  4.  4 lateral incisors
  5.  4 central incisors

To find out when permanent teeth begin to appear, see the permanent eruption illustration and the Teeth Eruption Charts.

B. Permanent Teeth

The adult mouth contains 32 permanent teeth, consisting of the following teeth types:

  1.  4 third molars (also called wisdom teeth)
  2.  4-second molars (also called 12-year molars)
  3.  4 first molars (also called 6-year molars)
  4.  4-second bicuspids (also called second premolars)
  5.  4 first bicuspids (also called first premolars)
  6.  4 cuspids (also called canine or eye teeth)
  7.  4 lateral incisors
  8.  4 central incisors

To find out when permanent teeth begin to appear, see the permanent eruption illustration and the Teeth Eruption Charts.


The teeth develop in sockets within the alveolar processes of the mandibular and maxillary bones. Teeth are unique structures in that two sets form during development. The members of the first set, the “primary” or “deciduous teeth,” usually erupt through the gums (gingiva) at regular intervals between the ages of six months and two and one-half years. There are twenty deciduous teeth – ten in each jaw – and they occur from the midline of the mouth toward the side in the following sequence: central incisor (front teeth), lateral incisor, cuspid (canine), first molar (used for grinding) and second molar. The deciduous teeth usually are shed in the same order they appeared. Before this happens, though, their roots are reabsorbed. The teeth are pushed out of their sockets by pressure from the developing “secondary” or “permanent” teeth.

Teeth Functions

Your teeth are used for:

Biting and Tearing: The central incisors and lateral incisors are primarily used for biting and cutting and canine teeth are primarily used for tearing food.

Grinding and Crushing: The premolars, molars, and wisdom teeth are primarily used for chewing and grinding food.

Internal Structure of Teeth

Each tooth consists of three main parts – the crown, the neck, and the root.

  1. The Crown is the visible part of the tooth. A protective layer called enamel covers the crown.
  2. The Neck is the area of the tooth between the crown and the root.
  3. The Root is the portion of the tooth that extends through the gum and into the bone of the jaw.

Preventing Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is the destruction of tooth structure and can affect both the enamel (the outer coating of the tooth) and the dentin layer of the tooth.

Tooth decay occurs when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches), such as bread, cereals, milk, soda, fruits, cakes, or candy are left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouth digest these foods, turning them into acids. The bacteria, acid, food debris and saliva combine to form plaque, which clings to the teeth. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the teeth, creating holes in the teeth called cavities.

To prevent tooth decay:

  1. Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride-containing toothpaste. Preferably, brush after each meal and especially before going to bed.
  2. Clean between your teeth daily with dental floss or interdental cleaners
  3. Eat nutritious and balanced meals and limit snacks. Avoid carbohydrates such as candy, pretzels, and chips, which can remain on the tooth surface. If sticky foods are eaten, brush your teeth soon afterward.
  4. Check with your dentist about the use of supplemental fluoride, which strengthens your teeth.
  5. Ask your dentist about dental sealants (a plastic protective coating) applied to the chewing surfaces of your back teeth (molars) to protect them from decay.
  6. Drink fluoridated water. At least a pint of fluoridated water each day is needed to protect children from tooth decay. A mouth rinse containing fluoride can help prevent tooth decay.

Other Oral Problems

Find information about other dental problems such as bad breath, tonsil troubles, canker sores, and more.

A. Bad Breath

  1. Changing Bad Breath: Bad breath is often caused by a buildup of bacteria in your mouth that causes inflammation and gives off noxious odors or gases that smell like sulfur — or worse.
  2. Bad Breath (Halitosis): Bad breath, medically called halitosis, can result from poor dental health habits and may be a sign of other health problems.

B. Dry Mouth

We all need saliva to moisten and cleanse our mouths and digest food. Saliva also prevents infection by controlling bacteria and fungi in the mouth. When we don’t produce enough saliva, our mouth gets dry and uncomfortable.

C. Tonsils and Glands

  1. Salivary Gland Problems: Your salivary glands produce as much as a quart of saliva each day. Saliva is important to lubricate your mouth, help with swallowing, protect your teeth against bacteria, and aid in the digestion of food.
  2. Salivary Gland Stones: A salivary gland stone — also called salivary duct stone, salivary calculus, or sialolith — is a calcified structure that may form inside a salivary gland or duct and can block the flow of saliva into the mouth.
  3. Tonsil Stones (Tonsilloliths): Your tonsils are filled with nooks and crannies where bacteria and other materials, including dead cells and mucous, can become trapped. When this occurs, the debris can become concentrated in white formations that occur in the pockets.
  4. Tonsillitis: Sometimes the tonsils become infected. Overwhelmed by bacteria or viruses, they swell and become inflamed, a condition known as tonsillitis.
  5. Peritonsillar Abscess: A peritonsillar abscess forms in the tissues of the throat next to one of the tonsils. An abscess is a collection of pus that forms near an area of infected skin or other soft tissue.

Canker and Cold Sores

  1. Canker Sores: The exact cause of most canker sores is unknown. Stress or tissue injury is thought to be the cause of simple canker sores.
  2. Cold Sores: Cold sores — also called fever blisters — are a painful infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV).

Treatments & Surgery

A. Fixing Crooked Teeth

Crooked Teeth and Misaligned Bites: Most often crooked teeth, overbites, and underbites are inherited traits just as the color of your eyes or the size of your hands.

Orthodontics for Children: If your child has crooked teeth or a misaligned jaw, it may be time to pay a visit to an orthodontist.

Braces and Retainers: If you have crooked teeth and/or a misaligned bite (an underbite or overbite), there are a variety of treatments that can help straighten teeth, including braces and retainers.

Caring for Teeth With Braces and Retainers: Braces, wires, springs, rubber bands, and other appliances can attract food and plaque, which can stain teeth if not brushed away.

B. Surgical Treatments

Root Canals: A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected.

Tooth Extraction: A tooth that is severely damaged may need to be removed. A surgeon who specializes in surgeries of the mouth (oral and maxillofacial surgeon) or your dentist can remove a tooth.

Gum Tissue Grafts: A gum graft may be necessary to protect your teeth from the damaging effects of gum recession, or you may choose to have one to improve the appearance of your smile.

Gum Contouring: Also called gum reshaping or tissue sculpting, this cosmetic dental procedure can even out an uneven gum line and give you a smile you can be proud of.

C. Other Dental Treatments

Dental Emergencies: Any dental emergency like an injury to the teeth or gums can be potentially serious and should not be ignored.

Dental Bonding: Dental bonding is a procedure in which a tooth-colored resin material (a durable plastic material) is applied and hardened with a special light, which ultimately “bonds” the material to the tooth to restore or improve a person’s smile.

Treatments for Gum Disease: There are a variety of treatments for gum disease depending on the stage of disease, how you may have responded to earlier treatments, and your overall health.

Tooth Fillings: Fillings are also used to repair cracked or broken teeth and teeth that have been worn down from misuse (such as from nail-biting or tooth grinding).

Laser Use in Dentistry: When used for “curing” a filling, the laser helps to strengthen the bond between the filling and the tooth. When used in teeth whitening procedures, the laser acts as a heat source and enhances the effect of tooth-bleaching agents.

Dental Implants: Dental implants are replacement tooth roots. Implants provide a strong foundation for fixed (permanent) or removable replacement teeth that are made to match your natural teeth.

Dental Crowns: A dental crown is a tooth-shaped “cap” that is placed over a tooth — to cover the tooth to restore its shape and size, strength, and improve its appearance.

Veneers: Dental veneers (sometimes called porcelain veneers or dental porcelain laminates) are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve your appearance.

Bridges: A bridge is made up of two crowns for the teeth on either side of the gap — these two anchoring teeth are called abutment teeth — and a false tooth/tooth in between.

Tooth Restorations: Tooth restorations are the various ways your dentist can replace or restore missing teeth or missing parts of the tooth structure.

Air Abrasion: Air abrasion is a drill-less technique that is being used by some dentists to remove tooth decay and other applications.

Treatment for Dry Mouth: Treatment for dry mouth depends on what is causing the problem.

Recontouring Teeth: Recontouring or reshaping the teeth (also called odontoplasty, enameloplasty, stripping, or slenderizing) is a procedure in which small amounts of tooth enamel are removed to change a tooth’s length, shape, or surface.

Repairing a Chipped or Broken Tooth: If your tooth is broken, chipped, or fractured, see your dentist as soon as possible. Otherwise, your tooth could be damaged further or become infected, possibly causing you to end up losing the tooth.

Tooth Sealants: Sealants are a thin, plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth — usually the back teeth (the premolars and molars) — to prevent tooth decay.

Mouth Guards: Mouth guards are coverings worn over teeth, and often used to protect teeth from injury from teeth grinding and during sports.

Ayurveda For Oral Hygiene

Oral Hygiene is most important for your teeth and to keep you away from irritating bad breath.

Ayurveda recommends brushing your teeth three times a day. Use Ayurvedic herbal toothpaste for the same for best results. In addition to the dental care at home, do visit your dentist regularly to check for tooth diseases like cavities and get the mouth cleansed.

For fresh breathe and oral hygiene chew mint leaves, seeds of fennel or cloves during the day.

People who are prone to respiratory infections and allergies are susceptible to oral hygienic problems. & need more attention towards oral care.

Avoid dryness in the mouth by having plenty of liquids.

Herbal Care for Dental Disorders

Teeth are the hard structure that is attached to the mucous membrane inside the mouth and are planted in the jaw structure of a human being. They serve the purpose of chewing and grinding the food and also in the pronunciation of words. Teeth and gums are sensitive areas, and they also carry an aesthetic value and enhances the beauty of the individuals. Considering all these, these are to be taken proper care of. Ayurveda which is an ancient science based on herbal therapies believes that teeth problems can be treated by balancing the three doshas of a human body – The Vatta, pita, and Kapha, just like any other diseased condition.

Ayurveda believes that the Kapha dosha is the root of dental problems so we should take care to well balance it.

Common Dental Problems & Ayurvedic Remedies:

Bad Breath

Caused due to poor dental hygiene. Ayurveda suggests gargling using lemon water, fenugreek tea is also helpful in maintaining oral hygiene. Have fresh guavas which are known to fight bad breath.

Yellowness and Dirty Teeth

Make a mixture of salt and lime and use it as a tooth powder. Also, you can use a mixture of kekar, salt, and a little roasted alum as a whitening agent of the teeth. Before going to sleep at night, rub orange peels on the teeth as it leads to whitening.

Tooth Decay

This is caused due to deficiency of calcium in the diet. Make dietary modifications to include a lot of calcium. Consume dairy products like milk, yogurt, etc. Include raw vegetables in your diet as much as possible. Make a mixture of table salt, turmeric, and mustard oil and rub it on teeth regularly twice a day. Avoid sweeteners in your diet.


The use of herbals like cinnamon and til along with clove oil is highly beneficial in alleviating toothache.
A combination of brown salt (rock salt) and ginger can provide some immediate relief from tooth pain. You can prepare a thick paste of clove oil, vinegar, and bark portion of the bayberry plant and apply it regularly on the tooth which has the pain to see some good results in a short period of time.
Refrain from the consumption of sweeteners, soft drinks, and carbohydrate-rich food.

Gum Bleeding

This is a common dental problem that occurs when the root of the teeth gets weakened and loose causing bleeding. Some Ayurvedic recommendations are brushing teeth with a Neem twig.
Massaging the gums and tooth with a mixture of alum and mustard oil and table salt is highly useful in preventing bleeding of gums. Leaves of guava trees are also thought to be beneficial in this aspect. Chew a couple of guava leaves daily for few minutes to avail of its natural benefits. Enhance the intake of citrus fruits and roughage in your diet. Consume a sufficient amount of raw and green vegetables.
The few well-known herbs to prevent bleeding gums are Neem leaves and other parts of the tree, clove, and turmeric.