Understanding Teeth Structure & Optimal Cleaning Methods

by Johnny Jacks

The saying ‘Teeth and hair make the human angle’ has long emphasized the significance of dental and hair care. Safeguarding and preserving oral health is vital. Understanding the fundamental structure of teeth is essential for proper dental care.

Teeth consist of three main parts

Enamel

Enamel, the tough outer layer of the tooth, is what we see. Its role is to shield teeth from external harmful elements such as temperature, chemicals, and erosion. Enamel is primarily composed of minerals, including calcium and fluoride. It is made of calcium phosphate in the form of elongated, thin crystals, densely packed to protect the dentin layer and pulp.

Enamel is the tough outer layer of the tooth.

Enamel is the tough outer layer of the tooth.

Enamel exhibits varying thickness across different areas. The thickest part is the crown, measuring about 1.5 mm. The chewing surface follows, while the enamel is thinnest at the tooth’s neck. It ranks as the hardest tissue in the body, scoring 260-360 Knoop in hardness. Unfortunately, unlike bones, enamel cannot regenerate itself when damaged. Poor oral hygiene leads to bacterial breakdown of residue, producing acids that corrode the enamel, creating conditions for bacteria to invade and harm the dentin and pulp.

Dentin

Situated beneath the enamel, dentin constitutes the bulk of the tooth, determining its fundamental shape. It covers the entire canal and pulp except for the root canal. While not as tough as enamel, dentin boasts better elasticity and is less brittle. Natural dentin appears light yellow, porous, and permeable. Hardness remains consistent in the cervical, crown, and root sections, with slight variations depending on the region. Dentin’s toughest part lies 0.4mm to 0.6mm from the pulp, with softness increasing closer to the pulp.

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Dentin’s Functions

Dentin serves three primary functions:

  • It acts as the tooth’s foundation.
  • It shields and safeguards the tooth’s pulp.
  • It aids in transmitting nerve signals, allowing us to perceive sensations such as heat, cold, acidity, and sensitivity.

Pulp

The pulp is the tooth’s ‘heart,’ situated beneath the dentin. It houses the tooth’s blood vessels and nerves, sustaining its vitality. The tooth pulp contains blood vessels and nerves distributed in the pulp chamber and canals in both the crown and root. Located within the cavity between dentin, the tooth may possess from 1 to 4 canals, depending on its type. Incisors typically have one canal, small molars have two, and large molars have three to four.

Pulp Functions

The primary functions of tooth pulp include:

  • Dentin regeneration: The pulp nourishes, repairs, and generates new dentin.
  • Nourishment: Its vascular system supplies nutrients to nourish the pulp and dentin.
  • Transmission: The canals sense and transmit sensations such as heat, cold, pain, and tenderness.

Termed the ‘heart’ of the tooth, a dead pulp signifies a dead tooth. Without the pulp, the tooth lacks nourishment and cannot perceive external stimuli.

5 Tips for Proper Oral Hygiene

Select the right toothbrush

How to choose the right toothbrush? (Photo: Internet)

How to choose the right toothbrush? (Photo: Internet)

Opt for a brush with soft, fine bristles and a pointed brush head to easily reach the back molars, particularly for individuals with these teeth. It’s crucial to swap your toothbrush every three months to maintain oral health. Replace it sooner if the brush head displays signs of wear. Prolonged use can harden the bristles, potentially leading to discomfort and bleeding gums, especially for those with sensitive gums. Above all, avoid sharing your toothbrush with others.

Ensure the brush remains clean and dry

Why is it important to keep the toothbrush clean and dry? (Photo: Internet)

Why is it important to keep the toothbrush clean and dry? (Photo: Internet)

Following use, the brush tends to remain damp, providing an ideal environment for bacterial growth. Moreover, residual plaque may linger on the bristles, necessitating thorough cleaning. Rinse your toothbrush diligently after each use and store it upright in a dry area to prevent mold or bacterial accumulation.

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Avoid aggressive brushing

Indeed, excessive force during brushing isn’t beneficial. Vigorous brushing can lead to bleeding gums, tooth sensitivity, and weakening over time. It may even result in loose teeth. To avoid these issues, practice gentle brushing in a circular motion, ensuring effective cleaning without harming the teeth.

Should I brush my teeth with force? (Photo: Internet)

Should I brush my teeth with force? (Photo: Internet)

Many individuals tend to exert significant force when brushing, believing it leads to a cleaner sensation. However, vigorous brushing isn’t advisable. It can result in bleeding gums, tooth sensitivity, and gradual weakening. This may cause teeth to loosen or become sensitive. If this is a habit, adopt a gentle, circular brushing motion to avoid harming the teeth while ensuring optimal cleaning.

Brushing alone isn’t sufficient for removing food particles between the teeth. To guarantee the most effective teeth cleaning, consider using dental floss. What’s the correct method for using dental floss?

Ensure you brush your teeth thoroughly for at least 2 minutes each time

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing twice daily for a minimum of 2 minutes. Brushing for less than two minutes may not effectively remove plaque from your teeth.

How long should I brush my teeth for? (Photo: Internet)

How long should I brush my teeth for? (Photo: Internet)

In reality, there are numerous individuals who struggle to brush their teeth for a full 2 minutes. According to the authors of a 2009 study, the majority of people typically spend only about 45 seconds brushing their teeth. The study, which examined the impact of adequate brushing time on plaque removal in 47 individuals, revealed that extending the brushing duration from 45 seconds to 2 minutes can eliminate up to 26% more plaque.

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Alongside maintaining proper oral hygiene, dentists commonly advise regular dental check-ups at least every 6 months.

Maintaining proper oral hygiene with toothpaste

Understanding fluoride levels in toothpaste: Adults should utilize toothpaste containing at least 1,350 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride. Children do not necessarily require specific toothpaste designed for them; they can use adult toothpaste as long as it contains between 1,350 and 1,500 ppm fluoride. Children under 6 without cavities can use toothpaste with lower fluoride levels, ensuring it contains at least 1,000 ppm fluoride. Children under 3 years old should use only a small amount of toothpaste, while those aged 3 to 6 should use a pea-sized amount.

Currently, numerous toothpaste brands on the market cater to most oral care needs. However, for specialized dental concerns, one can explore brands focused on addressing specific dental issues. It is crucial to pay attention to the fluoride content in toothpaste.

What is the appropriate fluoride content in toothpaste? (Photo: Internet)

What is the appropriate fluoride content in toothpaste? (Photo: Internet)

  • Adults should use toothpaste containing at least 1,350 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride.
  • Children do not require specialized toothpaste for kids. Children of all ages can use adult toothpaste if it contains between 1,350 and 1,500 ppm fluoride. Children under 6 without cavities can use children’s toothpaste with less fluoride, ensuring it contains at least 1,000 ppm fluoride.
  • Children under 3 should use only a small amount of toothpaste, while those aged 3 to 6 should use a pea-sized amount.

Furthermore, toothpaste might include ingredients such as disinfectants, anti-tartar agents, sodium bicarbonate, anesthetics, and certain enzymes that enhance saliva’s antiseptic properties.

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Effective teeth whitening through proper oral hygiene

To achieve whiter teeth through oral hygiene, consider toothpaste products with whitening capabilities. Opt for products containing hydrogen peroxide, a proven teeth whitening active ingredient that does not harm the teeth.

What toothpaste should we choose for teeth whitening? (Photo: Internet)

What toothpaste should we choose for teeth whitening? (Photo: Internet)

We hope that the information provided in this article has enhanced your understanding of tooth structure and the fundamentals of proper oral hygiene. Maintaining good oral health not only boosts confidence in communication but also contributes to a better quality of life. Wishing you continued excellent oral health!

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