Some Good Information about Your teeth

Posted by dentist3 in Dental Articles | 0 comments

"Smile! It lets your teeth breathe" - Anonymous.
“Smile! It lets your teeth breathe” – Anonymous.

If Tooth Enamel Is The Hardest Substance In The Human Body, Then Why Don’t Teeth Last Forever?

The oral cavity, the mouth, is one of the harshest environments known to man. Besides the soft tissues and teeth, the mouth is awash with saliva, a complex secretion of water, enzymes, antibodies, and minerals produced by several glands. 

The major salivary glands are the Parotids, located in the cheeks, the Sub-mandibulars, located under the floor of the mouth, and the Sub-linguals, located under the tongue. 

The Parotid glands empty into the mouth through ducts in the cheeks near the upper first molars. The Sublingual glands empty into the mouth through a pair of ducts just behind the lower central incisors.

The Submandibular glands empty into the floor of the mouth through numerous small ducts in the floor of the mouth. The teeth and tissues of the mouth are normally constantly bathed in saliva. That is a good thing.
The Submandibular glands empty into the floor of the mouth through numerous small ducts in the floor of the mouth. The teeth and tissues of the mouth are normally constantly bathed in saliva. That is a good thing. 

The surface molecules of Calcium and Phosphate in the teeth are in a chemical exchange with the molecules of Calcium and Phosphate in the saliva to a small degree. All stays good and healthy until food is introduced into the mouth. 

The incisors cut and the molars and premolars grind the food into smaller particles which mix with the enzymes in the saliva to begin the digestive process before swallowing the bolus down the esophagus and into the stomach where the next steps of the digestive process take place, eventually passing into the intestines to complete the digestive and nutrient absorption process.

The teeth in the mouth, depending on what substances are placed in the mouth, are subjected to heat, cold, and a great deal of pressure during the mastication (eating and chewing) process. 

Most foods are soft enough to be eaten without damaging the teeth. However, people develop oral habits, whether due to nervousness, anxiety, or just plain stupidity, which may cause physical damage to the teeth. 

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For example, some folks like to chew hard candy, un-popped popcorn kernels, pens or ice cubes. This sort of behavior subjects the teeth to stresses they were never designed to handle. 

Compounding the possible damage from hard foods and oral habits is the excess consumption of sugar sweetened beverages (eg.: coffee and tea) and/or carbonated drinks, especially those with citrus flavors. Consuming these beverages, especially sipping on them over a long period of time, subjects the teeth to exposure to carbonic acid, citric acid, and sugar. 

The sugar is what the bacteria causing cavities love to consume and produce acid of their own. Note that the level of acid in the mouth stays high for as much as forty-five minutes after the drink is finally finished unless the mouth and teeth are promptly cleaned (at least swish vigorously with water if cleaning is not possible).

Other individuals may have misaligned teeth or underlying psychological issues which cause them to grind (“Bruxism”) or clench their teeth at night while sleeping. Many who do so, deny the habit unless there is a sleeping partner who can verify that this noisy action takes place.

A dentist can also recognize the effects of such behavior by examining the cusps or biting edges of the teeth for excessive wear. In such cases, correction of the bite and/or use of a custom made oral appliance called a “night guard” while sleeping can interrupt the habit and protect the teeth. 

Other individuals may have misaligned teeth or underlying psychological issues which cause them to grind ("Bruxism") or clench their teeth at night while sleeping.
Other individuals may have misaligned teeth or underlying psychological issues which cause them to grind (“Bruxism”) or clench their teeth at night while sleeping.

For those who balk at wearing such an appliance, just remember it is much, much cheaper to replace a night guard costing a few hundred ringgit than having to place crowns on all twenty-eight teeth after they are worn down to nubs. 

Nightguards should be custom made and fitted to the individual’s need. The store-bought variety are generally far less effective, even though cheaper, and if misused can actually make the problem worse. 

If all of the above-mentioned assaults on the integrity of the teeth were not enough, there is the bacterial issue to consider. In the mouth living perfectly happily along with the oral tissues are several hundred species of bacteria numbering in the thousands, if not millions. 

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They are along for the ride happily eating whatever we eat, living, multiplying, and dying without our even being aware of their presence. They initially arrive when we are just new born babies, living on the fingers we suck, other objects we put in our mouths, the people we kiss, etc. 

Most are relatively harmless, but some species are not. Some of them consume the complex carbohydrates and sugars we put in our mouths and produce a biofilm, a sticky blanket if you will, over themselves as they cling to our teeth and oral tissues. This blanket is what is called dental plaque. 

After about twenty-four hours without being disturbed, plaque matures into a substance which interferes with the previously mentioned exchange of minerals between saliva and tooth surface, as well as holding in the acid byproducts of the bacterial metabolism and keeping that acid against the tooth surface. 

--- water jets, mouthwashes, Fluoride rinses, tooth picks, etc. --- does NOT replace the basic need to brush and floss regularly and effectively. 
— water jets, mouthwashes, Fluoride rinses, tooth picks, etc. — does NOT replace the basic need to brush and floss regularly and effectively. 

After sufficient time has elapsed, the acid begins to dissolve the mineral component of tooth enamel. It will lead eventually to an invasion of the tooth structure we call a cavity. This loss of mineral eventually leaves behind only the protein scaffolding of the tooth which is soft and gooey. It literally is an infection of the tooth. That is why it is crucial to interrupt this process by frequent and effective brushing and flossing.

You might ask, with all the advancements in chemistry today, why hasn’t someone come up with a rinse that kills the plaque-causing bacteria? 

The simple answer is that whatever would be toxic to the noxious bacteria would also be toxic to the tissues of your mouth and might just as well kill you too! Nonetheless, a great amount money has been spent on research trying to find such a miracle drug without success so far. 

So, for now, we have brush and floss as our main weapons against the little culprits. As you may have heard, you should brush at least twice daily (morning and evening just before bed), and floss effectively (the hygienist will show you the correct way to do both). These are MINIMUMS; more often would be better, especially if you are in a high caries rate group. Any other cleaning process you wish to use 

— water jets, mouthwashes, Fluoride rinses, tooth picks, etc. — does NOT replace the basic need to brush and floss regularly and effectively. 

If plaque is left undisturbed for a long enough period of time it may also pick up mineral deposits from the saliva and calcify into a hard, difficult-to-remove rock-like substance (“Calculus” or “Tartar”). This substance, in turn, will attract more plaque formation due to its rough surface and help advance the development of periodontal disease. 

“Be true to your teeth, or they will be false to you!” Anonymous.

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