Basic Information and Facts about Teeth
- A. Vandiveer Strait, BA, DDS, FAGD
Here are some facts you might like to know.
1. You should have from childhood to adulthood 20 Deciduous/Baby teeth and 32 Permanent teeth. A 6 year old after all his first permanent molars come in behind the baby teeth has 24 teeth which are erupted into the mouth plus 28 teeth which are in the jaws and not erupted.
2. Your teeth are designed to last a lifetime and dental disease is completely preventable. You just have to have a dentist who supports that happening and teaches you the technology that keeps you healthy.
3. Your teeth are one of the most important characteristics of who we are. Our smile is critical to how others perceive us. A beautiful smile says a lot about you and can influence how others interact or react to you. Teeth are critical to your ablility to eat and to speak and no artificial replacement such as an implant can ever equal a healthy dentition.
4. Baby/ Deciduous teeth are very important. They are critical to the proper development of the jaw and hold the spaces for the permanent teeth to erupt (come in) normally and in proper alignment. If your baby molar for example is lost too soon (prematurely) the teeth behind it will drift forward and the opposing teeth will hyper-erupt (move towards the missing tooth space). This will cause crowding and mal-alignment of your permanent teeth. If a baby molar is lost due to dental disease or an accident, a space maintainer should be placed immediately.
5. Dental disease, decay and gum disease, are caused by a very small number of varieties of bacteria that live in your mouth. You can eliminate these unwanted bacteria by effective oral hygiene and home care using healthy special antibacterials, thereby preventing dental decay and gum disease. (SEE OTHER POSTED ARTICLE ON DR. STRAIT’S SYSTEM ON HOW TO ELIMINATE THE CAUSE OF ALL DENTAL DISEASE PERMANENTLY). The presence of these bacteria in your mouth should be confirmed and monitored by your dentist or your dental hygienist using a phase microscope as part of any dental disease prevention program. You should insist that your dentist own and use a phase microscope, otherwise it is impossible to predictably prevent more and more dental disease.
6. There is a direct relationship between dental disease and health and longevity. The bacteria that cause dental disease can and do cause damage and disease in other parts of your body where they can travel to via your blood vessels, your nerve paths, and your lymphatic system.
7. The BASIC STRUCTURE of your tooth includes the tooth itself : the enamel, dentin, cementum, and pulp, and also the supporting structures around the root of the tooth which are essential and critical to the tooth’s health and support and consist of: the periodontal ligament, the blood and nerve supply, the alveolar bone, the attached gingiva, the free gingival, the gingival crevice, and the soft tissue mucosa.
SEE THE DIAGRAM BELOW FOR THE BASIC STRUCTURE OF THE TOOTH AND ITS’ SUPPORTING STRUCTURE:
The ENAMEL of your tooth is extremely hard (as hard as steel) and is the only part of the tooth that is designed to be exposed in the mouth. The enamel insulates the tooth from the stimuli of hot, cold, and touch.
The DENTIN, the main body of your tooth, is much softer, lower mineral content and has the ability to act as a transmitter of any stimuli to it’s surface. For example if we put ice on the root of your tooth it will transmit that cold very quickly to the pulp “nerve” of the tooth and you will feel pain. If we drill thru the enamel of the tooth you will feel no pain, but as soon as we come into contact with the dentin you will feel pain.
The PULP is the tissue that formed your tooth, it is NOT THE NERVE OF YOUR TOOTH. The Pulp consists of blood vessels, connective tissue, and about 15% nerve tissue. Although its’ main purpose is to form your tooth, it does have a secondary purpose as a warning system. Unfortunately the PULP is a poor and unreliable warning system of damage to the tooth and generally by the time your tooth hurts from decay it is too late and you end up needing major dental care to save the tooth. The pulp usually gives you no warning concerning periodontal disease and your tooth may have lost all its’ bone support and is loose and yet you have no discomfort. The pulp starts out as the only visible structure in the jaw as the tooth begins to form and in this regard is called the tooth bud. As your tooth forms the pulp gets smaller, and as you age it gets smaller and smaller until by age 80 or 90 it may not be visible on an x-ray.
The CEMENTUM is a thin layer on the roots of your teeth where the periodontal ligaments which hold your tooth into the bone are imbedded.
The PERIODONTAL LIGAMENT is the structure which connects and holds your teeth into the bone of the jaw. The periodontal ligament is richly supplied with nerves and blood vessels which nourish the tooth. When you touch or bite on your teeth what you are feeling is the periodontal ligament. The periodontal ligament acts as a shock absorber for the supporting bone and enables humans to have one of the strongest, most powerful of all bites in the animal kingdom.
The ALVEOLAR BONE is the bone which surrounds and supports your teeth. The normal bone support that is consistent with good dental health and keeping your teeth for a lifetime is one in which the root length supported by bone is 3 times as great as the part of the tooth including the crown of the tooth not supported by bone. In other words a 3 to 1 ratio of bone support. Although bone density is important it is not nearly as important as this ratio.
The GUM/ GINGIVA is the structure that protects your underlying bone and ligaments. Your Attached Gingiva is that part of your gum which is closest to the crown of your tooth and which is bound down to the underlying bone and is keratinized like the skin of your hand. The keratinization or tough outer surface allows you to brush your teeth without damaging the tissue. This zone should be about 3mm wide or more in order to make home care/ brushing comfortable and easy to achieve. Beyond this zone towards the root is your mucosa. Your mucosa is not bound down to the underlying bone and is not keratinized. If you brush it it is uncomfortable and may bleed quite easily. These two zones are easy to see on visual inspection. A very very important aspect of your Gum tissue/ Gingiva is where it is attached to and supported by your bone. With respect to this there is a crevice, often referred to as a pocket when it is not shallow. Crevice depth or Pocket depth is critical to the ability to maintain your teeth and keep your teeth clean and not allow bad (pathogenic bacteria) to cause damage. A 0 to 2 mm crevice is ideal and easy to maintain; a 3 mm crevice is still okay, but a little more difficult to maintain; a 4mm crevice is very difficult to maintain and even with good home care may get deeper; a 5mm crevice/pocket is impossible to maintain and will get worse. It is impossible to clean a 5mm pocket by normal brushing or flossing.