Your teeth do different jobs. They help you to cut up and chew your food when you are eating. They help you to talk and make different sounds. They also give your face its shape and they give you a nice smile. You have four different types of teeth:The incisors are the teeth at the very front of your mouth. They are the sharpest and help to cut up your food.The canines are the pointed teeth either side of your incisors. They help to hold and tear the food.The pre-molars sit behind your canine teeth. They have a flat chewing surface because they help to crush your food.The molars are the very back teeth. They are big double teeth and are also flat. They help to chew and grind your food into small pieces ready to swallow.
The main cause of tooth decay is the sugar that is in the food and drinks you have. Every time you eat or drink anything sugary your teeth are under attack from the plaque acids for up to one hour. This is because the sugar mixes with the bacteria in the plaque to produce the harmful plaque acids.
This is why it is important to keep sugary foods and drinks to mealtimes only. If you are hungry between meals then you should choose foods that are kind to your teeth and do not have added sugar.
Here are some foods that are kind to your teeth: fresh fruit, raw vegetable pieces, plain popcorn, cheese, breadsticks, plain yoghurt, rice cakes, unsweetened cereal, crumpets, plain bagels, cheese scones and nuts.
When you are thirsty, plain water and plain milk are the kindest drinks for your teeth. If you drink fruit juices you should keep them to mealtimes only and add water to them. It's best to drink fruit juices and fizzy drinks through a straw to help cut down the number of acid attacks on your teeth.
The main cause of tooth decay is the sugar that is in the foods and drinks you have. Every time you eat or drink anything sugary your teeth are under attack from the plaque acids for up to one hour. This is because the sugar mixes with the bacteria in the plaque to produce the harmful plaque acids.
If you have gum disease, your dentist or hygienist will usually give your teeth a thorough clean to remove any scale or tartar. This may take a number of sessions with the dentist or hygienist.
They will also show you how to remove the soft plaque yourself, by cleaning all the surfaces of your teeth thoroughly at home. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria which forms on the teeth every day (See our leaflet 'Tell me about gum disease').
Gum disease is never cured. But as long as you keep up the home-care you have been taught you can slow down its progress and even stop it altogether. You must make sure you remove plaque every day, and go for regular check-ups with the dentist and hygienist, as often as they recommend.
Visit your dentist or hygienist if you have any of the symptoms of gum disease, which can include:
Pregnant women who have gum disease may be over three times more likely to have a baby that is premature and so has a low birth weight. There is a one-in-four chance that a pregnant woman with gum disease will give birth before 35 weeks.
It seems that gum disease raises the levels of the chemicals that bring on labour. Research also suggests that women whose gum disease gets worse during pregnancy have an even higher risk of having a premature baby.
Having gum disease treated properly during pregnancy can reduce the risk of a premature birth.
People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease than people without it. This is probably because diabetics are more likely to get infections in general. People who do not know they have diabetes, or whose diabetes is not under control, are especially at risk.
If you do have diabetes it is important that any gum disease is diagnosed, because it can increase your blood sugar. This would put you at risk of diabetic complications.
Also, if you are diabetic, you may find that you heal more slowly. If you have a problem with your gums, or have problems after visits to your dentist, discuss this with your dentist before you have any treatment.
New research has also shown that you are more likely to develop diabetes if you have gum disease.
If you have diabetes, you have an increased risk of losing teeth.
Several studies have looked at the connection between mouth infections and strokes. They have found that people who have had a stroke are more likely to have gum disease than people who have not had one.
When the bacteria that cause gum disease get into the bloodstream, they produce a protein. This can cause inflammation of the blood vessels, and this can block the blood supply to the brain. This can cause a stroke.
People with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease than people without gum disease. When people have gum disease, bacteria from the mouth can get into their bloodstream. The bacteria produce protein. This can then affect the heart by causing the platelets in the blood to stick together in the blood vessels of the heart. This can make clots more likely to form. Blood clots can reduce normal blood flow, so that the heart does not get all the nutrients and oxygen it needs.
If the blood flow is badly affected this could lead to a heart attack.
Brushing removes plaque and food particles from the inner, outer and biting surfaces of your teeth. Here is one method of removing plaque:1. Place the head of your toothbrush against your teeth, then tilt the bristle tips to a 45 degree angle against the gumline. Move the brush in small circular movements, several times, on all the surfaces of every tooth.2. Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower, keeping the bristles angled against the gumline.3. Use the same method on the inside surfaces of all your teeth.4. Brush the biting surfaces of the teeth.5. To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several small circular strokes with the front part of the brush.6. Brushing your tongue will help freshen your breath and will clean your mouth by removing bacteria.
Dentistry is no longer just a case of filling and extracting teeth, as it was for many years. Nowadays many people turn to cosmetic dentistry, or ‘aesthetic dentistry', as a way of improving their appearance, much as they would use cosmetic surgery or even a new hairstyle. The treatments can be used to straighten, lighten, reshape and repair teeth. Cosmetic treatments include veneers, crowns, bridges, tooth-coloured fillings, implants and tooth whitening.