Gregory B. Garrett, DDS's Wilmington NC dental office is pleased to provide professional quality dental treatment to patients in Wilmington NC, Hampstead, Murraysville, Myrtle Grove, Carolina Beach and the surrounging communities. We offer general, family, children's, cosmetic, adult and senior dentistry services for our patients.
Have you ever wondered what makes up a tooth? Each part of a tooth has unique functions and properties. Aetna's Simple Steps to Better Dental Health lists major parts of tooth anatomy, including enamel, dentin, cementum, root(s) and the root canal chamber(s) inside the tooth. Damaged teeth, especially teeth with cracked or eroded enamel, are very susceptible to cavities. Advanced gum disease, another oral health condition that threatens tooth health, attacks the bone of the teeth and may cause tooth loss. Understanding the function of each part of a tooth and the steps required to keep teeth healthy with home care and regular checkups are important components of oral health education for you and your family.
Tooth enamel is a protective barrier that surrounds the visible part of the tooth. It is composed of strong minerals, including calcium phosphate. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, and healthy enamel is resistant to cavity-causing bacteria. Because of its mineral composition, tooth enamel is translucent. Fortunately, enamel can be strengthened. Fluoride, a common mineral, helps replenish deficits in tooth enamel. Parents can help replenish enamel at home with Colgate® toothpastes that contain fluoride. Dentists also offer special fluoride treatments. These are commonly administered to children to help keep their teeth strong and free from cavities.
Dentin is found underneath the enamel surface of the tooth and underneath the cementum that forms along a tooth's roots. Made of living cellular material and tissue, dentin is what makes up the majority of a tooth's structure. Dentin is a bone-like substance that contains microscopic tubules. Unlike enamel, exposed dentin is highly susceptible to the bacteria that cause dental cavities and can cause tooth sensitivity.
Cementum is a coating that surrounds the roots of teeth and is similar to enamel, but softer. Cementum assists with root stability by attaching to the fibers that anchor the tooth in the jawbone.
Much as a tree's roots help anchor it in the ground, a tooth's roots anchor it in the jawbone. This allows teeth to withstand the force of biting and chewing food on a daily basis. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, one major threat to the health of a tooth's roots is periodontal disease. This oral care disease is caused by bacteria in the dental plaque invading the gum tissue and supporting bone, thus leading to destruction of the bone holding the tooth or teeth in place. Tooth roots are integral to maintaining dental health. Even children can develop gum disease. Maintaining healthy oral hygiene practices — including thorough flossing and brushing — is an easy way to keep mouths healthy with home care. Regular dental cleanings for you and your family will also combat tartar and, ultimately, gum disease.
Root and Pulp Canals
Located inside the tooth in a hollow chamber is the root or pulp canal. A tooth may have one root and many premolar and molar teeth may contain two or three roots. It houses cellular material including pulp and the tooth's roots. This area of the tooth is extremely sensitive and is responsible for providing the blood flow and nutrients that are necessary to keep teeth alive. When this area is damaged or infected by extensive decay and trauma, root canal treatment is often necessary to save a tooth from extraction.
Learning about the basics of tooth anatomy will help you understand how oral health conditions form so that you can teach your children healthy dental habits. Explaining the unique biological makeup of teeth to your kids can also be a fun and productive way to introduce biological concepts in an easy-to-understand format.
The process of filling cavities is a fairly simple and straightforward one that can be done right at your dentist's office.
Filling Cavities: What to Expect
You should expect to be at your dentist's office for around an hour. This gives him or her enough time to take x-rays if needed, talk to you about the procedure and complete the dental work. Before filling cavities, your dentist will numb your teeth, gums and surrounding skin to avoid and lessen discomfort during the procedure. Next, he or she will drill out the decay in the tooth and replace it with a filling. This process only takes a few minutes.
Once you're done, your mouth will probably remain numb for a few more hours. There aren’t any significant risks associated with filling cavities, but be sure to keep your dentist’s contact information on hand in case you have any questions or complications.
The most common use of tooth fillings is to fill a cavity in the tooth. But tooth fillings also can be used to repair damage to teeth caused by teeth grinding (bruxism) or to replace part of a broken tooth.
Types of Cavity Fillings
Many options are available for tooth fillings, and all of them have their pros and cons. Types of tooth fillings include gold, silver amalgam (a composite of mercury, silver, and other metals), tooth-colored composite material, porcelain, and a special type of glass. The best tooth fillings for you will depend on cost, what your insurance may cover, and your aesthetic preferences.
There is a wide variety of materials used for filling cavities and they vary in strength and color. The two most common types are amalgam and composite.
Amalgam Fillings: Amalgam has been used by dental professionals for more than a century; it is the most researched material used for filling cavities. Amalgam fillings are strong and are therefore ideal for filling cavities in the back of the mouth such as in the molars, where chewing takes place. Since they are made of a combination of several metallic elements, amalgam fillings can be noticeable when you laugh or smile. These fillings are among the least expensive of all cavity-filling materials.
Composite Fillings: Sometimes referred to as composites or filled resins, these fillings feature a combination of glass or quartz filler and can be made to match the color of your tooth. Composite fillings are also fairly durable and are ideal for small-to-mid-size restorations in areas of your mouth that perform moderate chewing.
Metals: Gold or silver amalgam are the most common metals used for a cavity filling. Gold fillings can cost as much as 10 times more than silver amalgam fillings, but some people prefer the appearance of gold to silver fillings if they want the durability of metal vs. a less-durable composite material. Some people don’t like the appearance of metal fillings, but metal fillings can last as long as 10-15 years before they need to be replaced.
Ceramic: A ceramic cavity filling (usually made of porcelain) is tooth-colored, and it may be less likely to show tooth stains over time than a composite cavity filling. But price is a factor—a ceramic filling can be nearly as expensive as a gold cavity filling.
Glass Ionomer: This blend of acrylic and glass is used to create a cavity filling that releases fluoride to help protect teeth. But a glass ionomer cavity filling is less durable than other types, and may need to be replaced in as little as five years.
Tooth fillings usually last for many years before they need to be replaced. But tooth fillings can wear out over years of chewing. If you clench or grind your teeth, you may need to have tooth fillings replaced sooner.
If you notice signs of wear on your tooth fillings, such as cracks or worn areas, see your dentist to have the filling replaced as soon as possible. Continuing to chew with a damaged filling can cause the tooth to crack and require additional repair that is more expensive and more complicated than a simple cavity filling. If additional tooth decay develops around a filling, whether or not the filling is damaged, your dentist may choose to repair the tooth with a crown instead of a second cavity filling.
Other Potential Problems with Cavity Fillings
It’s important to know about potential problems, so you can see your dentist promptly to have cavity fillings adjusted or repaired. Possible complications from cavity fillings include:
Infection: Sometimes a cavity filling will pull away from the tooth to which it is attached, creating a small space. This space can be a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause additional tooth decay. If you notice a space between your tooth and your cavity filling, visit a dentist as soon as possible.
Damage: Sometimes a cavity filling breaks, cracks, or falls out. Damage to a filling can occur when you bite down on something hard or if you are hit in the mouth while playing sports. See a dentist as soon as you notice damage to a cavity filling to avoid irritation and infection of the unprotected tooth.
Did you know your digestive health can affect your teeth?
stomach upset can cause a gradual wearing away of the protective enamel
on your teeth, a process known as tooth erosion. This can affect the
appearance of your teeth and open the door for harmful bacteria that
How Do Stomach Problems Affect My Teeth?
stomach produces natural acids that help your body digest food.
Sometimes, these acids travel up the throat and into the mouth,
especially after a large meal. Ordinarily, our saliva rebalances the
acid levels in our mouth and everything’s fine.
But for those who suffer fromgastroesophageal reflux,
also known as acid reflux or GERD, gastric acids reach the mouth
throughout the day. This process is especially damaging when you’re
asleep, since you are swallowing less often and your mouth is producing
Another concern is the dry mouthcaused
by many acid reflux medicines. Saliva not only helps neutralize the
acids caused by acid reflux, but also helps to wash away food particles
and reduce bacteria that attack tooth enamel. This is why lower saliva
production may increase your risk for cavities.
What Does Reflux-Related Erosion Do to My Teeth?
reflux can wear away the enamel on the inside surfaces of your teeth,
as well as the chewing surfaces. Your dentist may notice this during an
Unfortunately, tooth erosion is permanent. If your enamel has started to wear away, you may:
Feel pain or sensitivitywhen consuming hot, cold or sweet drinks
Once erosion occurs, you may need fillings,crowns, a root canalor even tooth removal. Veneersmay be an option to restore the look of your smile.
How to Protect Your Teeth – And Get Relief
sugar-free gum can encourage saliva production, which helps neutralize
and wash away the acids in your mouth. Look for one with theADA Seal of Acceptance.
Prescription or over-the-counter fluoride and desensitizing toothpastes may help strengthen tooth enamel.
Avoiding alcohol and smoking and refraining from eating 3 hours before bedtime may reduce the frequency of acid reflux episodes.
heartburn, acid reflux or other stomach problems are part of your daily
life, work with your physician on a care plan to treat the underlying
causes of your stomach troubles.
you suffer from acid reflux, see your dentist regularly so they can
make sure your teeth stay healthy, recommend ways to prevent tooth
enamel erosion and suggest ways to get relief if you are also suffering
from dry mouth.
Being pregnant comes with many responsibilities—and the way you care for your teeth is no exception. For most women, routine dental visits are safe during pregnancy, but let your dental office know what month you are in when you make your appointment. If yours is a high-risk pregnancy or you have some other medical condition, your dentist and your physician may recommend that treatment be postponed. Be sure to let your dentist know if there is any change in the medications you take or if you have received any special advice from your physician. The benefits of receiving dental care during pregnancy far outweigh potential risks. Be sure to keep your dentist informed of any changes in your mouth such as swelling, redness or bleeding.
7 tips for maintaining a healthy mouth during pregnancy:
Brush thoroughly with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste twice a day.
With pregnancy, discomfort comes with the territory. Your body is changing, so a sore back or trouble getting comfortable is par for the course. But while you're piling up pillows to help you sleep at night, you might notice another source of pregnancy discomfort: Your teeth. Sensitive teeth during pregnancy can happen to expecting mothers, and knowing that other pregnant women suffer from the same symptoms might be somewhat comforting.
Nonetheless, here's what may be causing your sore teeth and gums, and how to deal with the pain safely:
Each of the hormonal changes happening in your body are equally the biggest culprits in tooth and gum pain during pregnancy. From increased blood flow to hyperactive hormones, pregnancy takes its toll. The most common causes of sensitive teeth during pregnancy include:
Hormones. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), pregnancy hormones can actually affect the way your body responds to bacteria, which can lead to periodontal infection and – you guessed it – sore teeth and gums. Increased blood flow. Your body is working overtime to support both you and your little one, which results in increased blood flow in the body. This increased blood flow can create sensitive, swollen gums that are tender to the touch. Hot and cold foods can therefore trigger that sensitivity, even if you've never experienced it before. Gum disease. Pregnant women are more susceptible to gum disease, which can also be a catalyst for preterm labor, according to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine. Of course, bleeding, sore and infected gums can definitely lead to a sore mouth and plenty of discomfort.
How to Respond
Although pregnancy can limit some of the medicinal intervention often used to treat sore teeth and gums, with some extra care and attention, you can keep your smile healthy during your prenatal nine months. Maintaining all the great hygiene habits you've used up to this point will keep you healthy and pain-free, so don't forget to give your mouth a little TLC, too. Here are four things you can do for your sensitive teeth during pregnancy:
Choose a soft-bristled brush. Sensitive teeth require a sensitive touch, suggests the March of Dimes. A soft-bristled brush, like the Colgate® SlimSoft™, cleans between and around teeth both thoroughly and gently to reduce soreness and bleeding gums into the future.
Take note of the foods that trigger sensitivity. Have you experienced a toothache while drinking tea? Do you find that ice cream puts you in pain? It's best to avoid these "trigger foods." In most cases, according to the APA, sensitivity in the gums goes away after pregnancy, so any subsequent tenderness in your teeth should subside as well, allowing you to indulge in hot and cold foods again in the near future.
Eat fewer sweets. Sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth, which can lead to cavities and soreness. If possible, reduce the amount of sweets you're consuming. If you must indulge, have a treat and then follow up by brushing to remove this fresh debris from your mouth.
See your dentist. Don't use pregnancy as an excuse to avoid your regular checkup, which keeps your smile healthy even when you're expecting. Just make sure to remind your dentist that you are pregnant, so proper precautions can be taken (like forgoing certain types of x-rays).
It's true that pregnancy means a period of change, especially for your body. But you don't need to endure oral discomfort. Talk to your OB/GYN for safe pain medication suggestions and to ensure that your sensitive teeth don't make for an unpleasant nine months. With consistent professional guidance and personal care, you'll be able to enjoy your pregnancy without worrying about the dental side-effects.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.
Between 60% & 70% of women experience gingivitis while pregnant. Pregnancy gingivitis is very similar to the gingivitis that occurs outside of pregnancy, and can include a mild inflammation of the gums due to plaque buildup, with red and sore gums that bleed when probed. If you have red, sensitive, or swollen gums during pregnancy, you’re not alone.
Pregnancy Gingivitis Causes
There’s a direct connection between pregnancy and bleeding gums. During pregnancy, increased levels of the hormone, progesterone, cause an increased response to plaque bacteria which can lead to gingivitis. As a result, pregnant women are more likely to develop gingivitis. Don’t worry though, knowing how to find the best anti-gingivitis toothpaste and best anti-gingivitis mouthwash will help fight off this disease during a time when the health of you and your baby are your top priority. Talking to your dentist and hygienist about this elevated risk before and during this special time in your life can also help reverse or prevent gingivitis.
Pregnancy Gingivitis Symptoms
You’ve got a lot going on when you’re pregnant, so your oral health may not exactly be top-of-mind. But because your risk of gingivitis increases, it’s as important as ever to maintain the health of your gums and teeth. Be aware of key signs and symptoms of gingivitis, like red, swollen gums or gums that bleed when you brush.
Pregnancy Gingivitis Treatments and Prevention
Here are some important things to remember to prevent or treat gingivitis while you’re pregnant:
Use an anti-gingivitis toothpaste. Crest Gum Detoxify Deep Clean, helps reverse early signs of gum damage by neutralizing the plaque bacteria build up around your gum line. Ask your dentist if they think you should start using it before, during and after pregnancy to maintain overall oral health.
Be sure to fully remove plaque. You may be missing the plaque found around the gum line, even if the plaque on your teeth has been removed. Pay special attention to these areas and consider for a toothpaste like Crest Gum Detoxify Deep Clean that can reach plaque around the gum line. The key to a healthy mouth is proper gum care.
Tell your hygienist and dentist if you’re pregnant. They may recommend more frequent dental cleanings to help you avoid gingivitis.
You may want to consider the breakthrough daily 2-step system, Crest Gum Detoxify + Whitening, which provides gingivitis protection, in addition to noticeable whitening benefits*—so your smile will be beaming, just like you!
If you're pregnant or pregnancy is on your horizon, see your dental professional to evaluate your dental health for any treatment needed prior to and during your pregnancy. With periodontal care included in your pregnancy plan, you can help reduce the risk of developing gingivitis during pregnancy.
Wisdom teeth are the last molars on each side of the jaws. They are also the last teeth to emerge, or erupt, usually when a person is between 16 and 20.
Since wisdom teeth are the last permanent teeth to come in, or erupt, there is often not enough room left in your mouth to accommodate them. This can lead to wisdom teeth that are impacted, teeth that are trapped beneath the gum tissue by other teeth or bone. If teeth are impacted, swelling and tenderness may occur.
Wisdom teeth that only partially emerge or come in crooked can also lead to painful crowding and disease. Since teeth removed before age 20 have less developed roots and fewer complications, the American Dental Association recommends that people between 16 and 19 have their wisdom teeth evaluated to see if they need to be removed.
How are Wisdom Teeth Removed?
A tooth extraction is a relatively routine procedure. Your dentist or a dental specialist, called an oral surgeon, will recommend either "going to sleep" using general anesthesia, or numbing this area in your mouth with a local anesthesia such as Novocain®.
After the tooth (or teeth) is removed, you may be asked to bite down softly on a piece of gauze for 30 to 45 minutes after you leave the office, to limit any bleeding that may occur. Some pain and swelling may occur but it will normally go away after a few days; however, you should call your dentist if you have prolonged or severe pain, swelling, bleeding or fever.
Removal of wisdom teeth due to crowding or impaction should not affect your bite or oral health in the future.