A large piece of understanding your own oral health and learning how to recognize where the problem lies begins with understanding the basic components of your oral blueprint. Every piece of your oral health starts from your teeth. They’re an extremely important part of your day-to-day life, not only in the sense that they help you eat and digest food, they also impact how we speak and a large part of the rest of our health. Let’s just say, there’s a reason you check the horse’s teeth when you’re purchasing him. Building a solid base of knowledge about oral health, you’ll start being able to troubleshoot potential problems with finesse.
The Anatomy of the Tooth
Your tooth is made of of two essential parts: the crown and the root. The crown is defined as the portion of the tooth you can see, the white part above the gum. The root is defined as the portion of the tooth that you cannot see that is anchoring your tooth in your mouth by attaching to the bone. You’ll find several different types of tissue in your teeth and each type serves a different purpose.
The Tissues of Your Teeth
You’ll find enamel, dentin, cementum, and pulp in each and every tooth in your mouth. Enamel acts as a protective layer over the crown of the tooth. It’s invisible and is actually harder than bone. It’s fashioned from a mixture of hydroxyapatite, calcium and phosphorous and it performs its duty of protecting the rest of the more delicate tissues very well unless it starts to wear down. Of the other tissues that make up the composition of your chompers is “dentin”. It’s the second line of defense underneath the enamel. It’s a calcified substance that looks very much like bone though it’s not as hard as enamel. If the enamel wears away, your dentin won’t last long in the way of protecting the rest of the tooth’s tissue. The third type of tissue is the meat and potatoes of your actual tooth. It’s called cementum and it’s the tissue covering the root and anchoring the rest of the tooth to the bone. It’s pretty soft tissue and relies heavily on dentin and enamel to do the heavy lifting as far as protecting the tooth itself. In fact, the best way to protect the roots of your teeth is by staying on a decent regiment with your gum cleanings.
If you can see cementum, you’ll recognize it by its light yellow color beneath your gums. If you can see it, the tooth has decayed quite a bit, or the gums are receding severely. This implies that the gums are diseased and that they’re shrinking away. Cementum is very vulnerable to bacteria and plaque and if you believe you can see it, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your Missoula dentist at Bitterroot Dental sooner, rather than later. Lastly, your tooth consists of some pulp. This tissue acts as the center of your tooth and it contains a variety of blood vessels and nerves. It’s the direct path your body sends nutrients along to your teeth to use.
Recognizing Your Tooth
You’ll find that your teeth are all shaped slightly differently and that’s because they’re meant to perform different tasks when chewing and assisting with the digestion of your food. Understanding the role each tooth performs in will help you hone in on the problem and adjust your self-diagnosis. In your mouth, you’ll find incisors, canines, premolars, molars and third molars.
You’ll recognize these as the eight Chicklet looking teeth at the front of your mouth. There are four on top and four on the bottom of the mouth and they’re specially created to act like little blades to bit into your food. Because of their simplistic, edge dominated structure, you’ll have very few issues with these teeth. There’s also the fact that most people tend to focus on only their incisors when brushing their teeth because of ease and perhaps a touch of vanity.
You’ll know these as those pointy little Dracula fangs flanking your incisors. You’ve got four canines, they form as two on top and two on the bottom and they’re used for tearing into meat and ripping your food apart. They’re your sharpest teeth and are probably the second most brushed type and thus, it’s unlikely that you’ll have problems with these teeth alone. If symptoms or issues arise in that area it’s more likely to be due to poor gum health overall, rather than just in that spot.
You may know these little guys as your bicuspids. They’re specifically for chewing and grinding up your food. They’re fairly blunt and they appear in two sets on each side of your mouth, top and bottom. Alongside traditional molars, you’ll see most tooth decay and cavities appear here. You’ll rarely see a gold tooth in the front of a mouth, but they’ll regularly replace premolars.
Just like bicuspids, they’re merely used for grinding up your food, but they tend to be less sharp than your premolars. When they grow in, they don’t actually replace any teeth you lost as a baby, they merely push all of the new teeth up as the jaw bone gets bigger.
You’ll know these as wisdom teeth and very few of these teeth stick around into adulthood. Half of them never even breach the surface. They don’t erupt until around the ages of 18 to 20 and that’s if they appear at all. If they do erupt, it’ll likely be a pretty painful experience and it often only causes more pain as few adults actually have jaw bones big enough to support that last tooth on both sides. It’s best to remove them before they cause you another round of braces. If they don’t fully emerge, they become a breeding ground for infections and other issues in your mouth and should be removed sooner rather than later.
Navigating Your Mouth Structure
Understanding the composition of the components in your mouth can help you maintain the proper upkeep for your oral health. Molars of all kinds are problem areas that should help you adjust where it is you’re brushing and for how long. Being mindful of how you brush and what kind of tools you use can decrease the likelihood of future oral pain and issues. While oral health is complicated, the composition of your mouth is simplistic and thus having a good knowledge base can help you avoid future pain and dental costs.