Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery In London
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The Reality Of Our Teeth

The structure of teeth

We tend to think of teeth as hard, inert elements of our body but as the diagram above shows, they are complex, living structures.

The enamel is relatively tough but not so hard as to be brittle. This is mainly composed of crystalline calcium phosphate and protects the other layers of our teeth.

Just beneath is the dentine, mainly organic material such as collagen and calcium, or phosphate crystals. Also dentinal fluid, which shields the pulp from microbial invasion and acts as a communicator between layers.

As the name suggests, the hard, calcified cementum helps a tooth to stay in place, a physical bridge between the periodontal ligament and the dentine.

At the core of a tooth is the pulp, an insensitive name for a sensitive area. This contains nerves, blood vessels, specialist cells and tissues, which provide nutrients to keep your tooth alive.

Repair & Replacement

Unlike much of the body, our teeth have a quite limited ability to repair themselves. There can be a degree of remineralisation, through treatment, drinking water, or fluoride toothpaste but not extensive replacement.

Once tooth decay progresses and cavities form, the damaged areas need to be removed and replaced with synthetic material. An alternative is to replace the tooth altogether, with a dental implant.

Where issues lay beyond the harder areas of a tooth, intervention by specialists such as endodontists can assist to a degree.

There is ongoing research on tooth regeneration, from using stem cells, to bioactive materials but this has not yet yielded a viable solution.

Protecting Yourself

There are multiple causes of tooth damage, including trauma, although the prime cause is structural breakdown brought on by bacteria. They produce harmful acids when consuming sugars, or carbohydrates in our diet.

Good oral hygiene is the best defence, with regular brushing morning and night. Additional professional cleaning and dental check-ups are helpful, to prevent decay, or catch this at an early stage.

Caring for your oral health also has benefits for wider health. There are causal links between poor oral health and heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, or kidney and blood disorders.

Equally, your mouth can reflect early symptoms of other medical problems, including oral cancers. A skilled professional can detect them during an examination.

Maxillofacial Support

The relationship between dental and wider health is a natural part of a maxillofacial consultant’s work. They are qualified as doctors and dentists, bringing a wide understanding of their patients needs.

Maxillofacial specialists treat a range of issues, from needing a single dental implant, to dental reconstruction following extensive facial damage.

Restoring function and appearance is important, along with eliminating discomfort but so is care for your current and future heath.

We hope an outline of how your teeth are built and can change has helped you to care for them. This is controlled by personal effort each day and finding good professional support when needed.