The greatest show of confidence in oneself is to greet the world with a big, pearly smile. In addition to helping affect the mood of those around you positively, studies have shown that those who smile often actually recover from stressful or traumatic situations quicker than those who don’t, even if they attempt to smile in the middle of the situation itself. Another fun fact yielded from studies: perhaps unsurprisingly, children tend to smile more than adults. This makes the decision to work exclusively in pediatric dentistry so rewarding; not only are we able to help each child get and keep a smile they can be proud of, but our dentists can be a great resource for parents who are concerned with keeping their children’s teeth healthy and white.
Get to know your teeth
The best way to care for something is to first learn about it. Since this is just as important for the upkeep of your teeth as for anything else, let’s take a quick tour of the mouth and learn about how the teeth and the gums develop into a beautiful smile.
The gums are a layer of soft tissue within the mouth that creates a bed for the teeth and protects the sensitive nerves of the roots from bacteria, disease, and physical harm. The proper caring for the teeth includes caring for the gums as well, especially through brushing and flossing.
If the gums bleed at any time while brushing, or if abrasions have formed either near a tooth or where the gums meet the top or bottom of the lips, then it is likely a sign of developing gingivitis. Cleaning a child’s gums is one of the biggest areas of focus during each visit and should not be ignored at home whenever the child begins their oral hygiene routine.
While the teeth are no more or less important than the gums in terms of health, they certainly are the showstoppers whenever someone cracks a smile. Knowing more about them means they can stay looking beautiful and white for years to come. The first teeth that we get to know in our lives are our primary, or deciduous, teeth, which come in as early as four to six months of age and typically start to fall out around six years of age. In total there are 20 primary teeth that are replaced with 32 permanent teeth when the child becomes an adult. These teeth include:
- Incisors: These sharp frontal teeth are used primarily to cut up your food. There are 8 incisors total.
- Canines: Canines help to tear food, such as chicken meat from the bone. There are 4 canines total.
- Premolars: These teeth help to crush large pieces of food to prepare them to be ground down for swallowing. There are 8 premolars total.
- Molars: The biggest teeth in the mouth, these teeth complete the journey of food by grinding the food into a manageable consistency for easy swallowing. There are 12 molars total, including wisdom teeth.
Each tooth is coated with enamel, which is the hardest substance in the body. It is made of calcium phosphate, a mineral that is white when it is healthy. Underneath the enamel is the dentin, a tissue that can easily become exposed when the enamel is damaged, causing sensitive teeth. As we go deeper into the layers of the tooth we will pass through the pulp, cementum, and eventually to the periodontal ligament, which holds the tooth to the jaw under the gums.