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Key Points
 
The lips, or labia, serve as the entryway to the mouth.
 
Examination of the lips is valuable in recognizing signs of illness or trauma.
 
There are 2 different surfaces of the lip—the skin and the mucous membrane.
 
The vasculature, sweat glands, and hair follicles underlie the keratinized epithelium of the lips.
 
The mucous membranes of the lips are non-keratinized.
 
Examination of the oral mucosa is important for cancer screening in adolescents who may be using tobacco products.
 
Research shows that periodontal disease can adversely affect other diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease.
 
Along with screening for cancer, examination of the oral mucosa may reveal signs of trauma, aphthous ulcers, or mucoceles.
 
As the teeth erupt, ridges of bone called the alveolar processes develop around the teeth to provide support.
 
The roof of the mouth consists of a hard palate in front and a soft palate in back.
 
A normal hard palate is a fusion of the bones of the upper jaw
and the palatine bones. Improper fusion of the bones results in a cleft palate.
 
The soft palate is important for swallowing and speech.
 
The tongue is composed entirely of muscle and connective tissue.
 
Papillae located only on the dorsal surface of the tongue are responsible for the sense of taste.
 
The lingual frenulum, also known as the frenum, connects the floor of the mouth to the tongue.
 
Ankyloglossia occurs when the frenulum is thick and severely limits movement of the tongue. In such cases, a frenectomy may be necessary to release the tongue.
 
There are multiple salivary glands within the mouth, especially along the mouth floor.
 
Failure of the glands to produce saliva results in xerostomia and can be caused by medical conditions or drugs.
 
Incisors, canines, premolars, and molars are the 4 types of teeth.
 
The front teeth are called the central and lateral incisors.
 
Dentists use letters to identify the primary teeth and numbers to identify the permanent teeth.
 
The primary dentition is comprised of 20 teeth, with the permanent dentition having 32 total teeth.
 
Molars have pits and fissures that harbor cariogenic bacteria, making them common sites for caries.
 
A specific taxonomy is used to describe the sides of the tooth.
 
Enamel is the hard outer layer of the tooth, which protects the root.
 
Enamel is composed of hydroxyapatite, which binds fluoride to become more resistant to decay.
 
Occlusal refers to the surface of the tooth where biting and chewing take place.
 
The tooth basically consists of a crown and a root.
 
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