Everybody knows that dental care is what helps keep our smiles white and our teeth bright. But the reasons why proper dental care is so important go much deeper than that.
Proper dental care is crucial if you want to keep your teeth from decaying and possibly even falling out for good.
That may sound drastic but it is true. A cavity results from tooth decay and dentures or dental implants are the end result of teeth that have decayed beyond repair. Poor nutrition and lifestyle habits such as cigarette smoking can both contribute to tooth decay, but by far the most common reason these types of tooth problems develop is improper dental care. Teeth that aren't cared for properly can also cause the dreaded 'bad breath', a foul odor that others shun.
It's never too early to start learning about dental care. In fact, it's a habit that should be taught very early in life. Teaching children to brush and floss their teeth regularly and to visit the dentist twice a year is something they'll remember throughout life. It's also what's going to help them take better care of and protect the teeth they have been given.
There is much more to a tooth than meets the eye. The part that is visible is referred to as the crown. Every tooth has another part called the root. A tooth's root is below the gum line and extends into the jaw bone. The area where the crown meets the root is called the neck. These parts – the crown, the root and the neck – are the 3 basic parts of every tooth.
The crown consists of 3 layers: the enamel, the dentin and the pulp. The enamel is the outer layer of the tooth, the part we brush, and it is actually translucent, not white. Enamel is what gives a tooth its strength but it is also the part of the tooth that will decay when not properly cared for. Below the enamel is a layer called the dentin. The majority of each tooth consists of this bone-like hard material that extends into the crown and below the gum line. Dentin is what's responsible for a tooth's coloring.
Within the dentin is a pulp cavity. This area contains pulp which is actually made up of connective tissues, nerves and blood vessels. The blood vessels carry important nutrients to the teeth and the nerves trigger hot and cold sensations.
What we refer to as our gums is actually called gingiva. Gingiva is the pink area that fits around each tooth and covers the jawbones.
Just as enamel surrounds the dentin in the crown area, cementum is a material that surrounds the roots. A layer of dentin also covers the cementum. Periodontal ligaments are what attach each tooth to the jaw. Craters, or more appropriately, alveolar sockets, form within the gum as each tooth pushes up through the gum. These sockets along with the alveolar process (the walls of the crater) also help keep teeth in place.